Who Will Bell the Cat??

In the comments to this post about the need for an international effort in Iraq, Porphy wound up and tossed a fastball over the plate, challenging me to show:

…an outline of

1) Who they think we will get on board that we don’t already have.

2) What terms they will demand.

3) Taking into account their stated position on the expansive, ambitious goals we have vs. “stability” in the region.

OK, here goes.

Typically, when I think about a market, one of the first things I think about is ‘the marketing universe'; how much effective supply or demand is out there? In this case, the issue is where is the effective supply of military power?

In 2000, the Top 10 looked like this:

| 1. China | 2,810,000 |
| 2. Russia | 1,520,000 |
| 3. United States | 1,366,000 |
| 4. India | 1,303,000 |
| 5. Korea, South | 683,000 |
| 6. Pakistan | 612,000 |
| 7. Turkey | 610,000 |
| 8. Iran | 513,000 |
| 9. Vietnam | 484,000 |
|10. Egypt | 448,000 |

The numbers are the total numbers of armed forces personnel.The rest of the Top 25 looked like this:

|11. Ethiopia|352,000|
|12. Burma|344,000||
|13. Syria|316,000|
|14. Ukraine|304,000|
|15. Thailand|301,000|
|16. Indonesia|297,000|
|17. France|294,000|
|18. Brazil|288,000|
|19. Italy|251,000|
|20. Japan|237,000|
|21. Germany|221,000|
|22. Poland|217,000|
|23. United Kingdom|212,000|
|24. Romania|207,000|
|25. Saudi Arabia|202,000|

So let’s assume that in the Top 10, South Korea is kinda busy right now. Pakistan is Right Out, as are Iran and Egypt (and the rest of the Arab world; right now to be a part of the occupation of Iraq means you may be deployed against some of these countries at some point in the semi-near future). That leaves China, Russia, India, Turkey, and Vietnam.

Let’s stick to the Top 10 right now. China and Russia both have huge dogs in this fight, as each of them faces their own issues with Islamists. India is certainly a possibility, but a) they probably realize that occupying – which will mean actively policing and intermittently killing people – a Muslim country right now won’t help tensions at home, and b) their eyes appear to be on the U.N. right now. But they are a possible player. Vietnam is a possible player, but they have no interests in the area. Turkey has been asked to dance, and has declined.

So we go back to China and Russia.

We don’t have much leverage in this area over China, and their willingness to see us taken down a peg certainly doesn’t motivate them to do much here.

But I think we do have huge leverage – positive and negative – with Russia, and that this presents a major opportunity that ought to be considered.

A few disclaimers: I’m not a policy wonk; I have access to nothing but the Wall Street Journal. The Economist, and Google. Foreign policy in the tactical sense isn’t my metiér, to say the least. But this notion has been nagging at me since I wrote the ‘Internationalization’ piece, and none of the research I’ve done since then has blown it up in my face. So I’ll toss it out here and see if you folks can blow it up.

I think we should be all over Vladimir Putin on this. I think the Russians have three strong interests in Iraq:

1) The Iraqis owe them a bunch of money for arms and oil equipment, and have outstanding contracts to allow them to explore for oil.

Russian weapons manufacturers have a powerful stake in Iraq. The latter owes Russia $7 billion for past weapons deliveries, which the Russian side still hopes to collect. Beyond that, Iraq is an attractive future market for their wares once the sanctions regime is removed. It has a long tradition of buying Soviet equipment. Both new equipment purchases and contracts to upgrade existing systems are a source of high hopes of Russian defense industrialists and exporters. Coupled with Iraq’s ability to finance its purchases with oil revenues, these hopes have resulted in a powerful domestic pro-Iraqi lobby in Russia.

For Russian oil companies, Iraq represents an attractive business opportunity — Iraqi oil is a good deal more accessible and cheaper to produce than oil from fields in remote regions of Russia, which is yet to be explored and developed. Russia’s special relationship with Saddam Hussein has put Russian companies in an advantageous position for political, rather than commercial reasons.

Thus, a handful of Russian oil companies have — depending on the mood of the Iraqi regime — held potentially lucrative contracts to develop oil fields in Iraq, once the sanctions regime is removed. Fully cognizant of the political motivations behind Saddam’s decision to award these contracts to Russian companies in the first place, Russian oil industry leaders and analysts suspect that in the event of regime change in Baghdad, Russian companies will be among the losers in the Iraqi oil sweepstakes–Saddam’s successors will be more likely to reward their backers with lucrative contracts.

2) The Russians have an immense stake in what happens to world oil markets once Iraqi oil comes on-line:

What quietly drives President Vladimir Putin’s strategy in Iraq is that Russia needs stability, especially in the oil markets. The pressure on Iraq has kept large volumes of crude oil off world markets and allowed the Russian government to navigate out of its debt trough on the back of high oil prices. But an American invasion is bound to upset everything. To be sure, in the first days of the attack, oil will jump to US$30 or $35 a barrel. But if the Americans establish the protectorate they say they are aiming for, then it is near certain that the spigot on Iraqi taps is going to open. The flood of new oil on to the market, by which the fresh Iraqi democracy will pay for its American tutors, will be so great, prices are likely to collapse to between $10 and $15. The American people will celebrate the victory all the way to their petrol pumps. The Russian people – approaching by then a parliamentary election, followed by a presidential poll – won’t be so cheery. They can kiss goodbye to much of the planned investment in the Arctic, St Petersburg and the Baltic shore, on Sakhalin and along the Pacific coast, all of which depends on the stability of oil prices at around $20.

3) The Russians have a similar worldview to the U.S., and even more at stake than the U.S. in combating Islamist terrorism:

Let’s take the following example. Europeans and Americans treat international terrorism in different ways. The US sees terrorism as an evil foe, which must be repelled by any means necessary. Bush has declared a war. US military policy toward terrorism is a wide-scale war, with bombings, offensives, soldiers, missiles, with death and destruction. If we don’t get them, they will get us. This outlook is rooted in the culture and messianic tradition of the US, their refusal to see shades of gray. A friend of mine told me that Americans are ready to defend a city whether or not its residents want to be defended.

If you look at the European approach to the same problem, you will see a fundamentally different outlook. Europeans see terrorism as criminality, not as a military foe, and fight it not with an army but with police force, with more stringent laws, stricter visa regimes – by sending the terrorists to jail. Americans don’t even want to bother with that, their position is to kill and destroy terrorists wherever they may be. And, starting from that dichotomy, the issue is not that the Europeans were against the war in Iraq. The issue is the appearance of diverging approaches to the same problem. In that sense, I am deeply convinced that Russia today will have a much easier time negotiating its military doctrine with the US rather than with Europeans, who live under a blanket of illusions and believe that nothing will harm them. Even in Great Britain, which is much closer, ideologically and mentally, to the US, Tony Blair has had a very difficult time convincing the public of the necessity of directly supporting the US. I believe that Putin will have a much easier time forming Russia’s military doctrine because Russia, in my view, looks at life and society in general more realistically than the Europeans.


Russia’s professional national security bureaucracy’s interest in the Gulf is of a less material nature. Lacking a concrete commercial interest, this group has not come to terms with the loss of superpower status. It harbors deep resentment of the United States and its preeminent position in the world–as well as in the Persian Gulf–and sees it in Russia’s national interest to oppose the United States, to undercut its influence and initiatives in the region regardless of their impact on Russian security or well-being. Thus, this group’s outlook is shaped by traditional, albeit outmoded, geopolitical considerations. However, given Russia’s diminished circumstances, this group’s ability to influence Russian policy is quite limited.

The professional national security bureaucracy has a further interest in the Gulf prompted by the increasing challenge of militant Islam to Russian national security. The war in Chechnya has attracted a good deal of attention in the Islamic world. The Chechen side is reported to have received support from a number of Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, in the form of both volunteers and material assistance. Russian authorities have also claimed repeatedly that Osama Bin Laden has provided support and training for Chechen fighters. As a result, curbing international Islamic support for the Chechen cause has become an active concern for Russian policy in the Gulf.

Overall, this presents a strong opportunity to do two things: first, bring the sponsor of much of the Arab Nationalist movement on board in striving for a remodeled Middle East, open a new rapprochement between Russia and the United States at a critical moment when the EU is attempting to create a EU/Russian anti-U.S. axis, and bring the resources of the second-biggest armed forces in the world to bear on the problems we will face.

There are huge obstacles; the Russian army has a history of brutal practices in Afghanistan which will be unacceptable; allying with the Russians will strengthen the mujads who remember fighting them; integrating our two armies will prove extremely difficult.

But for us, the benefits would be immense, in marginalizing the European opponents and taking the U.N. out of the center of the argument; bringing a major military to assist ours; and finally, in opening the doors for a real long-term association (“alliance” is too strong a term) with the Russians.

Ironically, the prospect of war in Iraq must be seen as an opportunity by some of Russia’s business leaders. They have been relentless in telegraphing to Washington with unprecedented clarity the price of Russian acquiescence to regime change in Iraq – a seat at the table when the time comes to divvy up the spoils of war, or in other words, assurances that they will get a piece of Iraqi oil after the war. With that they want acceptance and a chance to establish a dialogue with the political establishment in Washington. In exchange they offer their – considerable–influence at home, which they are prepared to deploy in order to help bridge the gap between the United States and Russia.

From a U.S. perspective, this is an opportunity that’s well worth exploring.

I couldn’t agree more.

So to answer Porphy’s 3 questions:

1) The Russians

2) Honoring prewar debts and oil contracts, stability in future world oil prices

3) See above.

OK, I step out and swing and…


* Flit comments.
* So do our readers. Very intelligently, as usual… to the point that they made this a “Best Of…” category post.

117 thoughts on “Who Will Bell the Cat??”

  1. You guys both left out the all important question of whether third party troops would be any good. See e.g. http://www.strategypage.com/fyeo/qndguide/default.asp?target=IRAQ.HTM

    An additional problem with Russia is the likelihood that they would be pursuing counterproductive goals in Iraq such as helping to continue hiding WMD. See e.g. Ion Pacepa’s recent article at Opinionjournal.com.

    OT: India turned us down for troops in Iraq, but maybe they’d play ball in Afghanistan? There is a standing UN resolution on the issue, and 17,000 Indian troops could really make a difference there–and keep Musharaff up at nights, which is cool.

  2. Tom – whooole different world between Iraq and Chechnya. In one, the bulk of the population wants the Russians out; they’re facing whay looks much like the traditional War of National Liberation. Iraq, if handled right, is a case where the minority of the population is violently opposed to occupation.

    Havign said that, I don’t see a lot in Russian doctrine as shown in Chechnya that suggests that they could effectively run their own troops.

    Problems, problems…


  3. Though you burn a lot of electrons up, I’m more persuaded than ever, given your valiant attempt, that we’re pretty much in it with the team we’re going to get. We need to get as many Iraqi’s trained as quickly as possible. Next would be a $50,000 incentive payment to every college graduate who is fluent in Arabic, written and spoken, and volunteers for service in the branch of the Government’s choice, cause we’re going to be doing this again and the biggest shortage seems to be linguists. That would be a lot cheaper than guaranteeing Iraqi repayment of debt to Russia and suffering the consequences of their thuggish army running around too close to Checnya.

  4. A.L.,

    You mistake cause and effect.

    Most Iraqis will react to our occupation like the Chechens react to Russian occupation if we let Russian forces into Iraq.

    Admit you were wrong.

  5. Tom & Richard –

    In the course of my nosing around, I’ve seen force:population ratios in the 20:100,000 range tossed out as the effective numbers (i.e. that’s what we used in Kosovo, what was used in WWII in Germany, etc. etc.). This is an area where substituting tech for boots is pretty difficult, and so here’s the issue – where do we get the boots??

    If we follow Trent’s suggestion and reinstitute a draft, we’re talking a year before any substantial numbers of effective troops start coming out the pipeline.

    If we work to bulk up the all-volunteer force, we’re looking at a longer time to see the force levels increase to levels that would afford us the opportunity to put 200,000 – 300,000 troops in Iraq.

    And we still need some flexibility to deal with what follows.



  6. Tom –

    >Admit you were wrong.

    Not sure I agree. the Chechens have quite a history with the Russians going back hundreds of years. the recent history of the Russians with Iraquis is positie – they were the supplier, trainer, superpower shield.

    Again, not 100% sure, but unconviced by your assertions so far.


  7. i think we all agree that this is a very tough situation. i dont think a full solution has been worked out by anyone, let alone those of us discussing it here. i do think there are many partial suggestions being floated that are very appealing. a larger presense in afghanistan with a totally international (ie: indian) face could do a lot to help take off some of the pressure in iraq. there isnt a whole hell of a lot else available to relieve presure though, so the question is how we make this work with what is now available.

    honestly i think going it mostly alone in iraq could turn out to be a good thing. the iraqis are likely to remember those nations that were willing to come in despite the lack of a un stamp of approval and may be more likely to shun those that were not. if we recognize that the threats we face go beyond just the fantasy world of islamism and involves also the entire issue of general gulliverisation, should we really be so eager to bring the main advocates of such into decision making process?

  8. I thought that our stated objective in Iraq was to create a stable, economically prosperous democracy there.

    How on Earth this could be accomplished by inviting Russians to the region? They don’t exactly have a good record with regard to democracy, rule of law, market economy, or treatment of non-Russians.

    And even if we think that their interest may coincide with ours, this does not mean that they see it this way. After all we KNOW for a fact that the terrorists threaten entire West; but French et al. prefer to pretend otherwise and instead see the US as a greatest threat to their dreams of “glorie”. Russians are also quite interested in cutting the US down to size, no matter how much Vlad may enjoy Texan barbeques. Does anybody really believe that the Russians would follow our political plans, or even cooperate with our military?

    If we simply want to screw the Iraqis all we have to do is to leave now; no need for elaborate games with Russians.

  9. AL —

    I don’t think your numbers work.

    First, there’s a huge difference between raw troop numbers (which you use, and which basically count the number of guys with an uniform and a rifle) and deployable troop numbers (which 1. are preferrably not conscripts, 2. well-trained, 3. have vehicles, 4. have other equipment such as radios, 5. include their own supply train, and 6. can transport themselves to Iraq. If 1-5 don’t apply, we’re far better off training civilian Iraqis instead).

    Then there’s a big difference again between the number of deployable troops and the number of useful troops — troops that have good morale and discipline, are reasonably well-educated, and have decent English and Arabic language skills.

    Bottom line: the UN is a chimera.

    Let’s keep our focus on the Iraqis; on training and equipping an Iraqi security/police force and otherwise build a decent country they can be proud of.

  10. Bremer is asking for what, 2 divisions? The Turks and Indians would have given us that many–and the Turks still may give us a division.

    The Indians bowing out has created an unforseen problem, much like the Turks balking at letting us stage from their country earlier this year.

    We made do when the Turks balked. We’ll make do now; probably wind up sending another batallian or two, train Iraqis as fast as we can and get a few hundred international troops here and a few hundred there. It’ll all happen more slowly and with more bloodshed than necessary, but it’ll still happen.

    Tom — Am familiar with your work. Those who aren’t should check it out.

  11. A.L.,

    Chechens know the Russians up close and personal.
    Iraqis don’t.
    Put Russians into Iraq and that will change.

  12. I’m no policy wonk either, but there is one thing you got this wrong:

    China and Russia both have huge dogs in this fight, as each of them faces their own issues with Islamists

    China’s problem isn’t with Islamists but with seperatists. They just happen to come from a region with strong islamic influence (Xinjiang province). A lot of reports have confused this issue, and the US has recognized some terror groups in the area and somewhere along the line things got confused.

    So they don’t really have a dog in the fight at all. But you are correct to point out that even if they did we have absolutely no leverage over them whatsoever over Iraq, and they would probably actually like to see us go down just a few notches.

  13. Tackling the comments thread before adressing A.L.s post itself,

    Iblis, Balagan – Indian troops in Afghanistan is an interesting idea but they might complicate the picture more than advance it, especially since they would be *highly* tempted to try and use Afghanistan as a base for their rivalry (to put it mildly) with Pakistan.

    Let me say here that I for one would *much* rather prefer warmer ties to India than to Pakistan, and have said so in a number of blog posts. But the potential for something Really Bad is too high here – considering both countries came closer to war in the last year than many people realize, and such a war could easily go nuclear.

    Turks – We have a fairly long relationship with Turkey that has been remarkably good. They’ve been with us in places like Korea, during the Korean War, and IIRC there were even some Turkish forces in Vietnam (someone please correct me if I’m misrecalling).

    However, in Iraq, at least under the current Turkish government, they seem more interested in mischief than help. Sure, they would be *happy* to provide a Division or two in the occupation force. However, the sticking point, I believe, is *where* they want to deploy it and to what end.

    The Turks were, people may remember, “vollenteering” to send troops into Northern Iraq (the Kurdish zone) during the fighting. They’re still happily vollenteering to “help” by sending troops to occupy the Kurdish areas of Iraq.

    I believe people see the problems that would almost certainly lead to.

    OtoH, we’d be happy to have the Turks provide troops to guard the oil pipeline to prevent sabotage, and perhaps watch the Iraq-Syria border. But they’re wanting a quid pro quo – they’ll be happy to watch the pipeline (which after all helps them), but want to “additionally” garrison those Kurdish areas. . .not a good deal.

    So, what we have is an impasse and until they give up the ambition to be put in charge of clamping down on Iraq’s Kurds (for their own reasons), Turkish troops are right out – they would cause more problems than they would solve and would lead to inflaming a region (Northern Iraq) that is, right now, stable and reasonably calm. It would be counterproductive rather than helpful.

  14. A.L.,

    Our most natural allies in this fight are the Iraqis themselves. The current plan to send 30,000 Iraqis to Hungary for police training (and I suspect some intensive “debriefing/reeducation” as well) will be tantamount to an additional two-heavy/three- light divisions – with an Iraqi face.

    The best way to pacify Iraq and put it firmly on the path to freedom and democracy is for us to make partners of Iraqis in this effort. Sure, we might suffer some setbacks due to enemy “moles” but on balance we’ll get to work closer with them; and they with us. This procedure should create more people dependent upon our succeeding; promote confidence in our efforts and intent; less fear of our leaving Iraq to the Ba’athists and Wahabbists; and finally, promote the kind of stable, civil institutions that will be necessary in Iraq long after we leave. Shared responsibility and accountability will do wonders for Iraqi self-reliance and independence: think job training and welfare reform rather than welfare programs.

    And the best part of it? We and the Iraqis both win. Oh, one more thing: we won’t have to cut any mission compromising deals with the “allies” who gratuitously alienated us by selling out our security interests at the U.N. to defend their pal Saddam.

  15. Now, as to A.L.’s core proposal: introducing Russian troops into Iraq.

    The difference isn’t just one between Chetchna & Iraq. It’s a matter of the composition of Russian forces – *very* ill-trained and uneavenly lead conscripts.

    Qualitative aspects of a military are at least as important as quantitative ones. Lets take a douple-look at the list of militaries. No one would argue that Egypt’s military (#10), or Pakistan’s (#6), is better than, say, Britain’s (#23), especially at stuff like this. Even France’s (#17) isn’t better than Britain’s, I would argue – not because French military traditions are bad but the current state of their force is, let us say, somewhat atrophied.

    In truth, probably no military in the world is better than Britain’s at the sort of operations being done in Iraq – though the USMC is a near runner-up. (Btw, a better ranking of militaries, one using “combat power” rather than raw force strength, can be found in James Dunnigan’s “How to Make War”. On that list, Britain’s ranks #8. They would rank even higher on a list that takes account of only forward-deployable combat power; the combat power of most of the other nations in the top #10 is primarily “fixed” to their immediate region).

    Other problems with Russia:

    Russian relationships with the former ruling authorities of Iraq, the Ba’athists are strong and close and would introduce a pernicious aspect to things. Putin is, for all his authority, not definately completely in control and there has always been a greater tendency of “moonlighting” among Russian military officers than those of the Anglosphere – engaging in things on their own account, even in contradiction of official policy. Also, Russian troops are poorly paid. Want to help arm the Ba’athist remnants and other elements fighting us? Then introduce an army, Russia’s, in which there is a thriving grey and black market (true stories of Russian military antics in the past include troops who traded their tank for as much booze as they could carry, and other shenanigans). The image of Russian troops being under iron discipline is misleading at best. Sure, discipline is harsh in the Russian army – but it is uneven and only partially effective. Russian troops get away with a *lot* of things, things that we wouldn’t want them getting away with in Iraq. By contrast, our “looser” military maintains discipline more effectively. Sure, people can point to stories of American soldiers black marketing stuff, but it is not *nearly* as pervasive nor on the kind of scale it is in the Russian army today.

    The Russian army also lacks the professionalism required to handle the delicate “Hearts and Minds” task in Iraq that is so vitally important.

    Now is also a good time to remind people that during the war, there were fairly reliable accounts that the Russians had provided Saddam’s side with equipment (including GPS jammers which, thankfully, were minimally effective) right up to and perhaps even during the conflict.

    Now, as to Russia’s interests in Iraq in other respects, A.L. is right that they do have strong interests there but they run contrary to ours. Take the example of Russia’s oil interests – sure, they desire stability in oil markets, but at a high price per barrel. Which means they’re *not* interested in the outcome mentioned in the CDI article.

    As to honoring prewar debts and oil contracts to Russia – ok, but there is a problem within that. The debt burden would be crushing on Iraq at this stage. We would have to pay it. The oil deals that Russia has with Iraq were made under terms that are almost obscenely favorable to Russia and disabling to Iraq – the oil deal that the Russian oil companies are most keen on was inked about a year ago, essentially as a bribe for Russia’s continued support. Saddam agreed to terms that were not based on commercial viability, but political pay-out for continued Russian support; one can ask him if he got what he expected out of it, but the answer is indicated by the fact that he voided the deals last December. Honoring those deals might win Russian support, but it would be at the expense of Iraq and Iraq’s people. IMO, the deals would, at minimum, have to be re-negotiated on fairer terms.

    (See here and here for some posts I have on the Russia-Iraq oil contracts).

    Add to that the problems I already mentioned with regard to Russian soldiers and a Russian presence in Iraq and I simply do not think it would work out to our benefit, or to the benefit of the Iraqi people.

  16. Porphy,

    Not to mention, the Kurdish areas are (seemingly) the least in need of garrisons.


    Remember – if an Iraqi is shot, Americans will take the blame, whether or not it was a Russian, Turk, or Indian at the trigger.

    I think we can field enough troops even if Bremmer needs another division or so. The question is can we do it without destroying the moral of our volunteer force, which is arguably the most precious resource in this present situation. I think we can, with a combination of the right incentives, bonuses, and rotation schedule. Cut the deployment to 9mos or even 6. Rotate everybody through. Really this is a domestic political issue, and should be treated as such.

    Further, more civilian forces need to be sent right away to pick up the slack with the humanitarian work. Money talks and money spent now will be well spent.

    On all counts now is not the time to try to save money. Where will it come from? I have some ideas but the most important thing is to make sure our troops and humanitian workers are numerous, rested, and well compensated.

    Could the Russians help? Sure. They could help with people to work with us to repair the infrastructure. Would this be worth cutting them in on an oil deal? I don’t think there’s any principled objection. Leave it up to the Iraqi’s – if they find the Russians helpful let them set the reward.

  17. Interesting string. We’ve worked with the Russians in the Balkans. There soldiers are very good, very tough. But, they’re tied to a third world logistics tail (we fed them in Pristina) and, even more important, have tough conditions at home. We’d be sending them into a sea of illicit cash. That said, I don’t think the focus needs to be on more boots on the ground. It needs to be on civilian reconstruction. Wrote about a Euphrates Valley Authority. A New Deal for Iraq. Loaded term, but in transitioning the Iraqi’s from a state driven economy to a market based one, some sort of New Deal (honey, off to my job at the Jobs Program Authority. You can poor a million troops into Iraq, and some jagoff with a bomb or an AK can create a sense of “instability”. Still issues (Europundit has a good post France’s Algiers military victory vis Idealogical defeat, similar to our Vietnam experience,) that we have to be aware of and deal with.
    That said, Russia is definetly being set up as the belle of the ball. Between France’s need to substitute Russian Military prowess for British (the Primakov plan,southern strategy, etc) and our desire to have them on our side out of “common interest” —the Russians are starting to have options.
    If you like Sci Fi, looking at the difference between Jerry Pournelle’s “CoDominion” and Danial Keys Morans “UN” outlook. Niether is palatable.

  18. What you are leaving out is the moral advantage of doing it ourselves.

    If we can do the job with the boots we have even if the casualties are 2X what they would be with an optimum force it will increase our effective military strength by at least 3X. Making our armed forces equal to a minimum of 4 million.

    The second problem is that we do not train with the Russians. The radios are there for not interoperable. Very important. We have no common tactical doctrine. That means we will be operating at cross purposes in many cases. Russian doctrine calls for flatening guerillas and their city supporters with arty. We and the Israelis OTOH prefer decapitation and targeted strikes limiting colateral damage.

    I’d say to pick any of those on the list you would have to limit it to those countries who we have worked with and trained with for years. It wouldn’t hurt if we had weapons in common too, limiting logistics problems.

    So who on the list fits the bill? The Brits. They are already with us.

    We are getting all the help we are ever going to get.

    Men and women are going to die. We are going to have to grit our teeth and take it. That is what war is about – can we stand the pain better than our enemies. If we can the next battle of the war will be easier. Our enemies will give up sooner. We have to bite the bullet. Iraq is going to be a tough battle. Our enemies may be losing 30 or 40 a day but for now they can handle that level of pain. So the question is can we handle losses of 1 to 2 a day? Our enemies are betting against us. They remember the lesson of Vietnam. We lost Vietnam in America not on the battle field of SE Asia.

    I am sorry to tell you all this but we have to take casualties to prove our determination. The rest of the world outside OZ, Israel, and the Brits expect us to eventually cut and run. The attacks will continue until they lose that hope.


    If we are not at least as good as the men of that era we don’t deserve to live as free men. The price of Liberty is the blood of patriots and tyrants. Let us pay willingly.

    “Not once in a century are men permitted to bear such responsibilities!” Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain professor of Rhetoric Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine.

  19. Tim’s point on Iraqis is a good one and I, for one, haven’t the foggiest why we didn’t and aren’t making more use of recruiting from the Iraqi exile community, either before the war or now. Many have offered to help, only very few were trained and sent, and they were largely sidelined.

    As for other countries, of those listed the best bet is really Indian troops in Iraq, but there is a catch-22 there.

    India wants UNSC cover. UNSC cover in this case means going through France & Russia. So that would mean giving those countries something in exchange for nothing (unless counting their obsteporousness as something worth rewarding). What they mainly want are their commercial contracts honored and Iraq’s debts to them honored.

    However, it isn’t so much, as some have asserted, that this gets in the way of *us* and our interests in Iraq, but, as mentioned in the previous post, these burdens would be crushing for Iraq and pretty much kill any prospect of them getting back on their feet economically any time soon – Iraq’s pre-war debt levels were unsustainable (and, indeed, Saddam had ceased payments on most of them already), and the oil deals which were signed by Saddam for political reasons (to buy political support) are stacked to Iraq’s detriment; honoring them would mean that Iraq would be denied the benefit of its own oil revenues, which would instead go to Russia and France.

    In tandem these would be particularly impossible to service – honoring the oil deals with France and Russia would mean that there would be absolutely no way Iraq could generate the revenue to pay back the debts that those countries want honored, above and beyond the fact that it would deny them money for reconstruction and building up a viable economy.

    So, in exchange for troops India wants something that depends upon the support of third parties that are not inclined to give it unless they are conceeded something that would hinder – criple, really – any prospect of Iraqi recovery. Thus it is a price not worth paying.

  20. Hmmm. The issues raised are certainly all real.

    Let me toss two out in return as I ponder all of this.

    First, is time our enemy or friend in Iraq right now? My concern is that we need to hit a level of stability X (which I’ll define as basic civil order, a functioning infrastructure, and some progress on getting the oil infrastructure in place so the Iraqis can sell oil and survive, and that we have resources A to get us there.

    Every day that Iraq isn’t at X, some amoount of Iraqi goodwill and American resolve drains away.

    You see where I’m going with this…do we need to ramp up the speed at which we hit X, or slow down the drain on resources, or are we OK??

    Next, looking past Iraq, there are real conflicts between the E.U. and the US (just because I don’t share Trent’s loathing for France doesn’t mean I think everything is hunky-dory.

    I tend to see Russia as the prize, because after it bottoms (and it’s coming close), it will have a strong, resource-driven economy.

    Right now the EU is trollng hard, but Russia hasn’t been landed. I’d rather we landed them, if at all possible.

    But that’s an impression, not an argument yet…


  21. IIRC the UNSC resolution recognising us as the occupying power precludes the kind of sweetheart oil deals Saddam struck with France and Russia (I recall reading this on DenBeste’s site). The accounts are audited by an international team – something that never happened with the “oil-for-food” program. Bottom line is we couldn’t get those Russian oil contracts honored if we wanted to – we’d be violating international law.

  22. Beets: those troops in the Balkans were a few select troops, not an entire Division of Russian soldiers (they tend to have a few good units but are very thin after that). So the problems would really be worse.

    Things were actually somewhat strained even in the Balkans. Look into Wesley Clark’s record there and the, um, friction with the Russians.

  23. A.L. I actually agree with you re. Russia in the larger sense, and in particular with this:

    I tend to see Russia as the prize, because after it bottoms (and it’s coming close), it will have a strong, resource-driven economy.

    (though the latter, “resource-driven economy”, I donno. Resource-driven economies tend to be poor. But I believe they will begin to revive an industrial base).

    However, IMO Iraq is an area where this could too easily get messed up rather than helped. IMO, it’s the wrong time and the wrong place and the likelyhood of clashing rather than conjoining interests is too great in *that* *area*.

    I think working together in other aspects of the war against terrorism would help, but including them in in this part of the campaign would be rife with potential mischief, not all of which would come “from the top” but would result from lower-level people doing things that could not be ignored but then would cause international incidents, especially given Russian pride.

  24. lewy14:

    The UNSC is, um, “uneven” in the arena of “International Law”. What they pass with a Resolution they can revise with another one, and that is the pound-of-flesh that France and Russia are looking for in any new, “stronger UN role” Resolution.

    We won’t do it because it would be self-defeating to do it, but they’re ready and willing to alter the previously passed UN Resolutions on post-war Iraq, which would amount to “passing new legislation” changing the “international law” (such as it is) in the area.

  25. A.L., a list of manpower numbers is so deceptive. Few of those countries actually have “effective” forces. Even the Russians had a great deal of difficulty deploying the small number of troops that they sent to the Balkans. And as I think Tom has stated, you can’t just send any body you have to work with US troops in Iraq.

  26. Porphy,

    I should have put “interntional law” in scare quotes, not italics.

    Yes, I recognize that with the UNSC what can be done can be undone.

    The real issue I’m raising is that the oil contracts aren’t really ours to negotiate – it really is Iraq’s oil, right?

    If we did re-create sweetheart deals for Russia and France to benefit ourselves at Iraq’s expense, then the accusations of imperialism and colonialism leveled at us by a certain segment of the political spectrum would be a lot less ridiculous.

  27. Many comments are at least entertaining the necessity of “internationalizing” the faltering nationbuilding enterprise in Iraq.

    I reject the notion that – “We are going to have to grit our teeth and take it” as obdurate and forward again the suggestion that American troops have completed their primary mission, and need “our allies” (remember them) to help provide relief, defray the costs, and assist in the security of the abused Iraqi citizenry.

    America should seek assistance, not relinquish command.

    This lively discourse and suggests that;

    – America cannot afford, nor do we have the forces to conduct the visionary Pax Americana nationbuilding enterprises (the military democratization and religious reformation of the middle east pipe dreams) conjured by rightwingideologues in the Bush clan, alone.

    – The Iraq nationbuilding plan or lack thereof was woefully misguided and ill conceived.

    – Bush should have finished the mission in Afghanistan first, and then moved on the House of Saud, the heart of islam, and 40% of the worlds oil, instead of wasting our and Iraqi blood and untold amounts of our money in a war against Saddam.

    – There are no easy, cheap, or bloodless solutions now to the Iraq mess Bush has deceptively heaped on our unchallengeable military, and America for decades to come.

  28. Tony, there were no easy, cheap, or bloodless solutions to the challenges before the USA even BEFORE Iraq. There still aren’t any. To start with strategy:

    Afghasnistan is not finishable, unless you want to try it the way the Soviets did. Don’t recall that working too well. So, we’ll play this the old British way (which did work, mostly), with a few American twists. That means Afghanistan will ALWAYS be “sorta stable”. Get used to it.

    Or… explain to us all how just you’d “finish” Afghanistan. This one, I’ve got to hear…

    No argument re: the House of Saud as a target. We might argue about the timing and preconditions needed to set them up for a fall, though. So far, not bad. I just wish I trusted Bush to take this to its logical conclusion – but if he doesn’t, American opinion Right and to some extent Left too is likely to find someone who will. Nice to hear voices like yours on the Left who get that – the Right largely does. And oddly, your most reliable allies on this are the neocons you so despise.

    Now, Iraq. I think it was the right move. You think it was the wrong one. We both wish some things were different. But the USA is there, and now what? Even Howard Dean seems to accept that – not that I trust him at all to live up to it.

    Recall that Hitler had not been found, and German “Werrewolves” terrorists were still attacking, right into 1947. The difference is that Germany did not have neighbouring countries who could or would send reinforcements to replace the Werewolves as they fell. So, this is going to take a bit longer and cost a bit more.

    Agree with those on the thrread who say Iraqis are key. And see Melana Zyla Vickers’ article for more Iraq options.

  29. Hey, Tony…

    I’m assuming you’re here to join a discussion and share your knowledge and opinions (and I personally REALLY like the idea that this isn’t some kind of echo chamber where we all agree and congratulate ourselves on our insightfulness)


    …the jargon and – I can’t think of another term – cheap rhetoric you keep throwing into your posts means that whatever signal may be there gets lost in the noise. Some examples:

    >of the middle east pipe dreams) conjured
    >by rightwingideologues in the Bush clan

    >Bush has deceptively heaped on our >unchallengeable military

    The points you may make are worth making (although not necessarily ones I agree with, and you’ll probably get some argument from me), but it’s hard to pay attention when the rhetoric is so strident that folks just tune out.

    You’re a grownup (no one can tell you’re a dog on the Internet), and make your own choices. But I’d like to have some good leftie arguments here to leaven the right-wing nods of assent, and I’d rather people didn’t just tune you out.

    Your call, tho.


  30. Tony, how do you reconcile this:

    - America cannot afford, nor do we have the forces to conduct the visionary Pax Americana nationbuilding enterprises (the military democratization and religious reformation of the middle east pipe dreams) conjured by rightwingideologues in the Bush clan, alone.

    With this:

    - Bush should have finished the mission in Afghanistan first, and then moved on the House of Saud, the heart of islam, and 40% of the worlds oil, instead of wasting our and Iraqi blood and untold amounts of our money in a war against Saddam.

    Just asking… seems contradictory… and are you saying that “islam” is our problem, that we have to “move on” and destroy it? Or what do you mean by “move on”? When you say “finish Afghanistan first, then move on”, kinda sounds like you are arguing for more military action. Care to clarify?

  31. Tony writes: “Many comments are at least entertaining the necessity of ‘internationalizing’ the faltering nationbuilding enterprise in Iraq.”

    Another example of Tony assuming something he can’t establish. Any claim of our efforts in Iraq ‘faltering’ would require establishing a baseline of expected progress. But Tony makes no such effort, instead jumping to the ridiculous rhetoric.

    “America should seek assistance, not relinquish command.”

    Another example of Tony making false implications that our policy contradicts his claim.

    “- America cannot afford, nor do we have the forces to conduct the visionary Pax Americana nationbuilding enterprises (the military democratization and religious reformation of the middle east pipe dreams) conjured by rightwingideologues in the Bush clan, alone.”

    As opposed to the leftwingideologue nation building you advocate …

    “- The Iraq nationbuilding plan or lack thereof was woefully misguided and ill conceived.”

    Try just establishing this point instead of repeating it without foundation over and over again.

    “- Bush should have finished the mission in Afghanistan first, and then moved on the House of Saud, the heart of islam, and 40% of the worlds oil, instead of wasting our and Iraqi blood and untold amounts of our money in a war against Saddam.”

    That’s your version of leftwingideologue invasion and nationbuilding. Again, you don’t support your claims.

    “- There are no easy, cheap, or bloodless solutions now to the Iraq mess Bush has deceptively heaped on our unchallengeable military, and America for decades to come.”

    Empty vapid rhetoric, devoid of factual basis.

    This is all that Tony contributes and why this trolling ( I unfortunately disagree with Tom’s characterization while agreeing with his frustration ). Another dead thread.

  32. A.L., regarding the WaPo story,

    Sounds like State dept is floating a trial balloon of some kind. State likes to negotiate international agreements, that’s what they’re about. Whitehouse and Defense are not on board.

    The interoperation and logistics arguments against “Internationalizing” the occupation force made in this thread are interesting because they don’t change even if we had complete international and UN support from the beginning. On paper, Kuwait was liberated by the United Armies of Benetton™ but the situation on the ground was that the US did the vast bulk of the fighting, and today the interoperation issue are even worse.

  33. A.L.,

    Troops on occupation duty tend to use the occupation policies of their respective armed forces, assuming their country has one. If not, they improvise and the success of that improvisation depends on the professionalism of the armed forces in question.

    Russia has an occupation policy of many years’ standing. Joe would be very upset if I described it. Ask the Chechens and Afghans. Yet you want to put the Russians into Iraq.

    Are we talking about the same Russians?

    It is pretty near imposssible to retrain a foreign ground force which has a significant proportion of short-service conscripts to use a new occupation doctrine in the time frame before we could deploy a comparably sized and effective, and brand new, group of Iraqis.

    IMO, Turkey and South Korea are the only countries with ground forces which have the capability and numbers to assist us in the occupation of Iraq. AFAIK, the pre-war plan was to use the Turks in numbers at this point. That fell through due to Turkish domestic politics. The ROKA/ROKMC are presently unavailable due to prior pressing commitments.

    The occupation policies of both the Turkish and ROK forces are effective but hardly nice.

  34. What seems to be going on here are two points:

    1. Time is short for the Iraqis
    2. Americans cannot sustain casualties.

    I don’t buy #1. We have enough time if the Iraqis change their minds and decide that they (not the USA) are responsible for their country. In fact since this is a pre-condition for self rule they are going to have to change their minds for US success. Because they have had 30+ years of being told what to do this will take time. Given human nature very few will change their attitude for at least 6 months. For the rest it will take two or three years for an attitude change and another three years to get the required practice – see Germany 1945 to 1951. Or Japan same era.

    Prewar poling said that Americans would accept 1,000 deaths to secure Iraq. Assuming one death a day we are still 2+ years from that number.

    In any case can is not the issue. Must is the issue.

    It is America’s and the Brit’s job. Let us stop the whining and get on with it. We are not going to get significant outside help. We must proceed slowly in Iraq due to deBaathification. So we will not get much Iraqi help for a while. War sucks. So does 9/11.

    We must also recognize Saudi strategy for what it is. War has often been a way to clean a country of malcontents. In other words suicide by American troops. Fortunately the Saudi’s cozy relationship with America (Bandar Bush anyone?)is unraveling. All to the good.

    As I alluded to in a prior post, if America goes crawling to the UN or any of the Axis of Weasels we are in deep do do for the next strike.

  35. Agreed Joe, but prior to the war, the “otherside” was pushing for a continued inspection process, and unanimously agreed on strict prohibitions against and enforcement of the destruction of Saddams’ WMD development.

    It is moot to argue hypotheticals, but I believe the world would have eventually supported beheading Saddam and America would not face the problems we do today alone.

    I appreciate your advice A.L., and will try to curb my rhetoric, – but I think framing the obviously necessary and justified response to 9/11 as a war, was…deceptive, and purposefully opportunistically marketed to sell the lurch into Iraq and achieve the cloaked ulterior political and economic objectives of the…administration.

    Our mission is, or should be hunting, capturing or killing islamic jihadist mass murderers, and those that aid and abet them, destroying their networks, systems, bases of operations, – and prosecuting, (with the assistance of the rest of the civilized world, which offered universal and impassioned support after 9/11) criminal manhunts and police actions against all the jihadist islamic and islamofascist mass murderers, their gangs, and those that aid and abet them for crimes against humanity.

    War constructs, strategies, tactics, and logistics are quite different than police actions and criminal manhunts.

    Regarding Afghanistan, – our military located, targeted, and destroyed the al Queda and Taliban bases, and individuals initially quite forcefully allowing Karzai and the Northern Alliance to establish rather quickly a new more progressive islamic Afghanistan. Bush, focusing on Iraq for whatever reason however, deflected attention, military resources, and money from Afghanistan, (reneging on many pre and post war promises of larger support to Karzai in the process) which allowed for the Taliban and al Queda to reconstitute as we see happening today.

    Now, we cannot commit the force needed to finish hunting, capturing, and killing these freaks in Afghanistan, because of the large and sticky commitment in Iraq.

    I reject the invasion and occupation scenarios as “old world”, over arching, and beyond and outside of the critical mission. Oil, energy, construction, and military cartels may benefit from these massive invasion occupation, and ensuing nationbuilding enterprises, but the American public, our military, and the victim nations must burden and hazard the enormous costs in blood and money of such epic undertakings.

    I believe Bush, and forgive me here for stating my opinion, exploited the horrors of 9/11 for the political and economic gain of a few rightwingideologues, and cronies in the oil, energy, construction, and military cartels of (what I view as accurately described as) the Bush fundamentalist republican oligarchy.

    Bush deceptively hyped Iraqi threats, opportunistically marketed the war to win republican seats in November, secretly promoted the wildly visionary agenda of said clan of rightwingideolgues and crony capitalist profiteers in the Bush… administration, hurled America to war and a misguided, woefully ill-conceived, and enormously costly nationbuiling enterprise against the wrong muslims – hence my dread concern and indignation.

  36. I will post a more detailed response tomorrow, but briefly, I said move on the Saudi’s – not invade occupy, and nationbuild, – a construct I reject.

    Our enemies are jihadist and islamofascist mass murderers and those that aid and abet them, and I believe most of the muslim world – if given a chance and a reasonable alternative rejects the savagery and insanity of these perverted freaks, – but if – IF – islam sides with the malignant perversions of jihadist and islamofascist islam, – then yes – we must crush this enemy completely and before a mass murderering martyr treks through Grand Central Station infected with some chimera bug, or manages to detonate a dirty bomb in Haight Ashbury.

    Destroying our enemies is the mission at hand, democratizing the middle east militarily is beyond our capabilities economically and politically.

  37. Don´t forget the wider pricture: Bringing in the Russians will inevitably reduce American leverage over neighbouring countries Iran and Syria. These issues must not be separated.

    Besides, I really don´t believe Russian troops will achieve anything in Iraq except cause trouble.

    Any kind of internationalisation will not reduce the commitment of US forces, since useful contributions could come at best in the form of civilian efforts (training, money, infrastructure, political support), not in providing security. Only the US and, with time, the Iraqis themselves can do anything about security. Now don´t panic, it´s only been a few months.

  38. Tony, My problem is that experience had given me zero confidence in your first paragraph’s proposition, and it’s also crystal clear to me that the French were never going to give up their client Saddam. Nor would the Russians. Again, both have a long history that goes back to the 1990s, and in both cases it’s completely consistent and unvarying since the aftermath of Gulf War I.

    So basically, I have zero belief in your first 2 paragraphs. And of course, as you point out, we’re beyond that debate now.

    RE: Afghanistan, if you’ll recall, the reconstitution happened mid war. The Taliban abandoned the cities and melted away into the countryside/Pakistan. Karzai set up in Kabul, but his writ in practice did not extend further. His influence depends on the cash of the Americans and their rewards to keep existing tribal structures on side (a la the British playbook). Nothing much has changed since.

    Afghan family loyalty shelters many Taliban, and Pakistan shelters and recruits many more. If you have a working solution to either either problem involving large numbers of troops, put it out there – but I think tackling this set of problems this way would ignite a Soviet-style war across Afghanistan. Pursuing the Pakistani option militarily, meanwhile, would result in a confrontation with an Islamic nuclear power and possibly draw India in. Doesn’t look appealing to me.

    You’ve made points before about the USA not being omnipotent. It’s precisely this realization that is driving the current Afghanistan strategy, and giving us the results that may be unsatisfactory to you.

  39. lewy14 wrote:

    The real issue I’m raising is that the oil contracts aren’t really ours to negotiate – it really is Iraq’s oil, right?

    Correct, with a but:

    The Russian and French position remains that those are still valid. They also want to have UN control over the political side of the occupation in Iraq so that they will be able to put in place an Iraqi government that will aceed to their deals – thus, for example, their continued interest in finagling the Ba’athists back into the picture; that way they can re-introduce the folks they have long standing contacts with, and such folks would be likely to give them something because their aint no other way they’d get back in power.

  40. Tony writes:
    “I believe Bush, and forgive me here for stating my opinion, exploited the horrors of 9/11 for the political and economic gain of a few rightwingideologues, and cronies in the oil, energy, construction, and military cartels of (what I view as accurately described as) the Bush fundamentalist republican oligarchy.”

    And your continuous and baseless slanders got old years ago.

    “I will post a more detailed response tomorrow, but briefly, I said move on the Saudi’s – not invade occupy, and nationbuild, – a construct I reject.”

    In other words, you have no criticisms but slanders, you have no solutions but platitudes. And you call this toning down your rhetoric?

    I “reject” your postings.

  41. China /did/ have a big dog in the Iraq fight — his name was Sadaam. Classic proxy.

    China’s two main strategic concerns are the US (especially as it relates to sea and space power) and India — a dynamic, democratic, regional power. China (quite correctly) is India’s primary strategic concern.

    China is deeply involved with commercial and naval development of the Pakistani port of Gwadar, strategically located at the mouth of the Gulf of Oman, in a position to control the Persian Gulf (and its oil), given a big enough naval presence. Gwadar is a two-fer, creating problems for both India and the US.

    India has quietly had its first overseas military base operating at Farkhor, Tajikistan, for almost a year and a half. India is also building a substantial blue-water navy, including at least four strategic missile capable nuclear-powered submarines of its own design. One fleet of the new Indian navy will be tasked to the upper Arabian Sea specifically in response to Gwadar.

    As for the Russians, let’s remember that the Russians were the primary military advisors to the Iraq army. The Iraqis used Russian equipment and Russian tactics. Got their butts kicked badly on both counts, if I recall.

    Only the Russian spyetznatz units are worth bothering with. Most of the Russian military is configured for 2nd generation warfare (massed firepower) and this is largely a 4GW fight. US, UK and Israel understand 4GW. The Aussies are learning fast.

    So don’t look for the Rooskies in Iraq. They (like us), however, have a major argument with Saudi militants who have proven to be both the money and the brains behind Russia’s problems in Chechnya and Dagestan.

    When it is time to take out the regime in Arabia (and by then the militants almost certainly will have taken down the house of Saud), expect the Russian spyetznatz to be in the thick of it. They will probably stage out of Iraq.

    Even now the Arabia strategy unfolds. USAF formally deactivated its 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing at Prince Sultan Air Base yesterday. Doesn’t sound like much when said that way, but it is a strategic shift of some substantial proportion. We are gradually pulling out everything that matters.

    Apart from the ‘flypaper’ strategy under development in Iraq, the real targets are Syria, Iran, and Arabia. The amazing thing about the guerrilla action in Iraq is that there is so little of it. Once the weather cools off and there is some usable thermal contrast in the backwaters of Iraq, I expect the al Qaeda and Jihadis will find their exits blocked.

    In all honesty, we probably do not need (or want) a whole lot of extra help at this stage. We are learning how to occupy and pacify that part of the world. Once we have that figured out, the next phase–whatever it is–can begin.

  42. 19 freaks (15 of them Saudi’s) with box cutters struck at the heart of America and changed the world, so this is the face of our asymmetric enemy.

    Our military is unchallengeable and has the capabilities to strike with precision and overwhelming force and lethality at virtually any target on the planet. The key is discovering and unearthing the right targets. That process requires special or covert operations strategies tactics, global cooperation, and localized humint.

    No one – including me – would argue that Bush (with the help of many other nations) has not succeeded in disrupting the mass murderer gangs operations, uncovering elements of their networks and systems, and capturing or killing many mass murderers, – and this is the mission that will eventually put down the threats we face, and defeat our enemy.

    The most critical mission, – (and one some of you believe is just now two years later starting to happen, but I do not see yet beginning) – is cutting off the Saudi funding and nurturing machinations. This mission does not necessarily require large military operations, though it may eventually, – but in the meantime relentless merciless and forceful political and economic pressure, – the kind of political pressure and information warfare Bush utilized to sell the war in Iraq, MUST be vigorously applied to Saudi Arabia, – and perhaps only the Saudi “dirty dozen.”

    Bush cannot be let off the hook on this mission, and excused by hollow and airy promises of some “ropeadope” theory, or the dim hope of some grand super plan eventually emerging. Redressing the Saudi issue is job one, and way overdue.

    With no funding, our enemies will quickly be reduced to a bunch of perverted religious freaks throwing stones.

    The House of Saudi is the key to defeating our enemy, (there are other funding and nurturing sources that deserve the same treatment, but the Saudi’s are the key).

    The secondary key to keeping these freaks from reemerging are the global police actions and military prosecutions of criminal manhunts of mass murderers and those that aid and abet them –

    Eventually, a global discourse and redress of the legitimate reasons why so many muslims are so desperate and full of hate must begin, but only after the (major) threats are eliminated.

  43. Rumsfeld has publicly stated that if Gens. Abizaid or Sanchez asked for more troops they could have them. At this point, it’s not clear to me what more troops would do for us operationally. You still couldn’t guard everything. It seems to be more of a political cover issue, at least with internationalizing the occupation, which I agree is a mistake anyway. As Porphy has repeatedly pointed out, we’ll get the blame anyway. And why would we want to hand someone the responsibility for a mission that they do NOT support anyway?

    The BIG issues are troop rotation and enlistee retention. We should probably be increasing our troop levels to help manage these problems. I haven’t seen any indications of a recruiting push, so apparently the decision hasn’t been made to do this yet. It seems that the Pentagon always prefers new toys to ‘boots’, maybe because officers like managing procurement programs instead of leading troops on the battlefield. As has been pointed out, boots are more important during an occupation.

    Unfortunately, recruitment is going to be more difficult due to, as AL has repeated tried to point out, Bush’s poor selling of the war. We’ve not been asked to participate in the efforts in any way, unless shopping is considered as participation. Did those who bought a new Korean DVD player with their tax rebate check feel particularly patriotic?

    And reinstituting the draft is a crazy idea. The Armed Forces don’t like it because the enlistee quality will go down. Philosophically, if troop levels can’t be maintained with a volunteer force, then, well maybe, we aren’t pursuing a policy worth dieing for. If you are not literally willing to give your life for the policy that you’re advocating, then suggesting that the draft be used to further that policy is the worse kind of elitist hypocrisy. The little people just don’t know what’s best. Right?

  44. [ 2. Russia 1,520,000 ]

    Those numbers are pure hype. Russland has nowhere near that numner of effective troops. Relying on such hypothetical headcount lists of soldiery is numbskull stuff.

    … From accounts I’ve heard, the Russkies have had as few as five (5) attack helicopters available — total — during their Chechen campaigns.

    Russian conventional forces are extremely weak. Russia’s only remaining military strength is its nukes.

  45. Lurker writes: “Unfortunately, recruitment is going to be more difficult due to, as AL has repeated tried to point out, Bush’s poor selling of the war. We’ve not been asked to participate in the efforts in any way, unless shopping is considered as participation. Did those who bought a new Korean DVD player with their tax rebate check feel particularly patriotic?”

    My comments are not aimed solely at Lurker, but everyone who uses this line. President Bush made a comment about returning economic activity to normal after Sept 11 2001 as part of his attempt to reassure the nation. It wasn’t part of “selling the war” – something the administration has spent a lot of time on – and lumping them together is just a cheap shot.

  46. Robin:
    AL’s point still stands. Bush isn’t doing a good job of selling his policies. If we’re going to need more US troops for this long war, young men are going to have to be MOTIVATED to enlist. Are we seeing anything like that?

  47. Robin,

    In defense of Lurker – yes, Bush has spent a great deal of time selling the war – both in Iraq and the larger war on terror. And yes, the “go out and shop” meme is not part of that selling job.

    The criticism is that many people perceive that the spirit of sacrifice which characterized other war efforts seems to be missing here. There is a concrete reason for this: an actual curb of consumption would do more to damage to our economy than to help the war.

    The key would be to craft a message of sacrifice which maintained the economy and actually helped the war – and I agree with Lurker (and have posted above) that recruitment, retention and moral are key to this.

    Personally I would feel better if we were to immediately fund another two divisions (so they would be there in a couple years if we needed them) and pay for them by “postponing” some missle defense activity (based on “disappointing test results”, of which plenty can be found).

  48. Lurker, I still dispute A.L.’s standards for “selling” the war – as seen in that thread. But I would like to see some good old fashioned jingoist recruitment propaganda of the kind Tony falsely claims is being done. Some extended commercials of the Sept 11 attacks with an Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine recruiting call center phone number at the end.

    Of course, we’d be treated to some hilarious foaming from the ANSWER/Howard Dean cultists.

  49. I agree and disagree.

    Some use of commercials that you suggest may be helpful, but a media saturation effort would be prety grotesque. Don’t you think?

    At some point he has to sell his policies, especially over the long term. One of my biggest fears is that we will be politically forced to leave Iraq with the job undone. That would be the real disaster. If Bush is laying the groundwork for a LONG campaign, I just don’t see it.

    Can anyone point to us were Bush is laying the foundation for a long and expanding campaign? Any preparations for increasing the number of troops, like recruiting or funding? Any substantive efforts to maintain or expand public support?

    If we really need more troops, and we don’t want any international involvement, then we’re goin’ to have to recruit ‘em and train ‘em ourselves. Like, I said the draft is out. So, what ARE we going to do?

  50. First off, I posted this with the intent of starting a discussion, and wow!! Thanks to all…

    Obviosuly this is an issue we’ll all be thrashing around with for some time. Let me toss somethign esle into this:

    Porphy Tom and others have hammered me for criticizing Bush for doing a bad job of “selling” the war…they say he’s done just fine, thanks.

    Yesterday, that radical leftist Virginia Postrel *posted this*:

    The problem is that the administration deliberately obfuscates about who and why we are fighting. A “war on terror” is like a war on tanks–it’s a war on a tactic, not an enemy. If al Qaeda had hit the Pentagon with a missile rather than a civilian airliner, that attack on a military target wouldn’t have been an act of terrorism, but it would have been an act of war. And there’s no reason to think al Qaeda wouldn’t have used a missile if it could have.
    Because the administration won’t say bluntly who and why we’re fighting, it tends either to step on its own strategy or to mislead the public about the reasons for U.S. actions.

    Read the whole thing…

    A.L., going back to work for a bit…

  51. lewy14,

    Test results are always disappointing until the bugs get worked out of a system. They tend to be the very worst as a project nears completion.

    There are plenty of places where we can defer spending to get a missile defence, two divisions of Army, one Marine, two carrier battle groups, and possibly one more amphib carrier. A balanced force.


    If we can’t democratize the Middle East we will be fighting alligators forever. We will get nuked for sure. We will have to deal with disease outbreaks. etc. Time to drain the swamps.

    Sure it is a risky policy. However, the policy you suggest is riskier. After all how do criminal manhunts in Iran? Syria? Lebanon? Saudi? Iraq? Ask pretty please? We are going to have to take all those countries down in various ways one by one. Iraq is the ideal location for applying pressure to each and all of them.

    I thank my lucky stars that Bush is in charge of policy and not you.

    Another thing I might point out is at ther end of WW2 people especially didn’t think Japan could be democratized and that Germany was a long shot.

    We have experience doing this sort of thing and we have the national archives to look at for policy ideas. Plus we have some very good boots on the ground.

    To a certain extent we are going to have to do what we did at the end of WW2, muddle through. ie. innovate, adapt, overcome. We are pretty good at that sort of thing. We will prevail.

    In the mean time we don’t have to go after the terrorists. They are coming after us. Very good. We have no way of extraditing them from the countries that are supporting them. Or perhaps you could share with us how we can do the criminal manhunts in Iran today? This ought to be good. In my opinion reality is not your strong point. Prove me wrong.

    Strategic offence tactical defence. The strongest position militarily. It got Sherman from Atlanta to Savanah. With very few casualties.

  52. A.L. writes:

    Porphy Tom and others have hammered me for criticizing Bush for doing a bad job of “selling” the war…they say he’s done just fine, thanks.

    Yesterday, that radical leftist. . .

    My statements regarding that were of a particular sort that I do not think this remark does justice to. Likewise, they did not depend on whether the criticisms were coming from a “radical Leftist” or not.

    It might behoove you to refresh your memory regarding what I said, the degree to which I did and did not let Bush off the hook but objected and object to placing the blame and responsibility entirely in his lap when that was never the case in the past.

    I will also say, regarding the idea that the “war on terror” description is deliberately obfuscatory, just this:

    “Many have Tried, All have Failed” to come up with a pithy description. Your “War on Bad Philosophy” descriptions is one of the better but hardly perfect ones, which is one reason I have found it both useful but also not “just so”.

    Anyhow, I’ll read the Postrel piece at the same time you’re re-reading the posts & comments I wrote in response to the “Bush failed to sell” meme.

  53. A.L.,

    The only people who do not understand what we are doing in Iraq are wilfully blind.

    Any serious student of history and current events who can read a map can figure out what we are doing.

    Virginia is a very nice person. But there is no way I want Bush to announce our tactical policy to the world. He has stated that his policy is to prevent further attacks any where in the world but especially America. From my point of view he has the correct strategy and tactics to do just that.

    For a very bright woman Virginia is not too smart. Or else she is playing dumb for effect.

    The Bush policy is:
    1. No more attacks on America
    2. Change ME political culture one or two countries at a time to remove the seeds of resentment. Let the people control their own destiny.

    On both counts I’d say he was doing a fine job so far.

  54. Tony & M. Simon,

    The US clearly has the capability of winning the war on terror, which is really Arab-sponsored terror. Foreign terrorist attacks on Americans at home will ensure that we have the will to do so.

    The only question is how many Arabs survive the experience.

  55. Democratizing the middle east is a noble goal, (although I believe there should be some discussion of the middle east nations willingness to accept this goal) but my point is – we cannot achieve that objective, that goal militarily. Democracy at the tip of a spear is imperialism, and it will not work in a region, and specifically a RELIGION that has never in the history of man welcomed democracy (Israel being the single exception). You are projecting christian constructs on the muslim world that holds diametrically opposing and conflicting ideals, values, and philosophies.

    Certainly America has the military capabilities of executing regime changes aplenty, – but the nationbuilding enterprises, and the continuous policing and monitoring of these societies that would be necessary to maintain democracy would be an enormous unsustainable and crippling cost, (many billions of dollars more than anything ever dreamed of before) in money and blood, that America cannot, and I contend will not countenance.

    The middle eastern nations and the muslim must voluntarily on their own volition choose to join the 21st Century, and perhaps adopt some kind of democracy. America cannot, nor do we have the legal or moral right to impose democracy on the middle east.

    We have to dismantle and destroy completely our enemies. Israel is the model I would adopt. They strike deep into the heart of the arab world and poof known threats, or ticking bombs with relative impunity. “Syria, Iran? Libya? Lebanon? Saudi? Iraq?” may whine about mass murderers, and mullahs being suddenly spattered all over the street, – but the outcry will be nothing compared to the resistance of invasions and occupations (colonization), and I contend there is virtually nothing they could do.

    Again the key is cutting off the Saudi funding and nurturing machinations, and the threat capabilities will reduce significantly. Threats will of course always exist, but the kind of long-term global operation conducted on 9/11, the purchase of heavy weapons, and certainly the acquisition of WMD will be rendered impossible.

    Saudi Arabia is the key.

  56. Tony, your comments reveal a great ignorance of history. Countries can be “democratized” at the gunpoint – there are several examples of different ways to do it. Israel, Japan and Turkey are some widely divergent examples.

    However, you misrepresent – again – the Bush administration policy.

  57. Tony,
    I’ll certainly agree that democratizing the Middle East is is not the easy way, but it seems the best of a whole set of not-so-good options.

    It sounds like the polict that you would have preferred, would have been enlarging the Iraq imbargo to include the whole Middle East, and making strikes at whatever specific threats we find out about? Is this a basically accurate statement of your idea?

    If so, I don’t think it would have been wise. It would have required an immediate declaration of war with every Middle Eastern country, SIMULTANEOUSLY. Also, if the UN wouldn’t cooperate with us on Iraq, how would we ever get them to cooperate on a plan like this? We’d certainly be hearing even more charges of unilateralism! And how would you have kept the oil flowing during all this?

    Seems to me that your path would have been even riskier than the one we’re already on.

  58. [ The middle eastern nations and the muslim must voluntarily on their own volition choose to join the 21st Century, and perhaps adopt some kind of democracy. America cannot, nor do we have the legal or moral right to impose democracy on the middle east.

    We have to dismantle and destroy completely our enemies. Israel is the model I would adopt. … ]

    This Israelite-style democracy to be imposed upon the A-rubs: does it include The Chosen People’s non-separation of church and state?

    Yuk yuk.

  59. Wow. What a thread.

    While I think Tony’s posts have been a waste of time, at least they helped divert everyone from the idea of Russian troops in Iraq. That one was a doozy. I’m as eager as the next guy to see some sort of improvement in our relations with Russia, but anything would be better than sharing heavy-duty military occupation work with them.

    Somewhere back in the thread, there was a discussion of how to maintain a sense of wartime sacrifice without instilling wartime austerity. How about a “Shop for Iraq” campaign, in which kids collect pencils and notebooks (hmmm… the notebooks would have to come from the Leftorium to be of value to Arabic students), and companies get to write off donated computer equipment?

  60. Don’t know which chosen People David is referring to, but his past comments on this blog have been openly anti-Jewish and one assumes this is in the same vein.

    Church and state are indeed separate in Israel, to the dismay of the small (but annoying) ultra-orthodox parties who seek to erode this distinction. Which explains why Muslims and Arabs can be Parliamentarians in Israel’s Knesset, and why state law and not the equally developed corpus of Jewish law is in use by its courts.

  61. Tom:

    >The US clearly has the capability of winning
    >the war on terror, which is really Arab-
    >sponsored terror.

    I’ve agreed with you at great length; of course we can defeat the Arab world – we can cause it to essentially cease to exist …delanda est as they say.

    The problem is to defeat the irredentist Islamist factions without hitting the ‘delete’ key on the whole thing.

    Theer are two core questions that remain unanswered in this thread:

    Do we have the resources on hand to pacify Iraq?

    What will the cost to our other foreign policy initiatives of making that commitment?

    There’s a second issue, which is largely unspoken: is our larger aim to dominate the world, or to share dominion?

    Many of the objections to ‘internationalizing’ the Iraqi Project, as I’ve come to call it, are that we will have to compromise on our goals.

    That’s obviously a legitimate objection.

    But I’ll reply with the (serious, not rhetorical) question “what’s it worth to go it alone?”

    Because we’re faced with three broad choices here:

    1) Go it alone, bear the cost and reap the benefits;
    2) hand the keys back to the UN;
    3) weld together some other kind of international collective, in which other counties play a mroe meaningful role than they do today in the ‘coalition of the willing’.



  62. I’m offering a question ONLY at this point:

    Is it possible to have UN transition (or fold in) with the present reconstruction effort? That means, NO military or peace-keeping effort whatsoever. Simply put, they’ve mucked up several efforts in the past, so let ‘em handle the bureacratic crap they seem to be capable of dealing out.

    P.S. Chain the silverware to the tables before they get there.

  63. There are those who oppose the expansion of the UN’s role because UN organizations are more corrupt – and thus likely to make our problems worse. Likewise on many UN “peacekeeping” troops, witness the various reports of problems with corruption among UN peacekeeping troops in the Balkans.

    I think at this time the key resource we need to spend in Iraq is time and resolution.

  64. A.L.
    I think the consensus is to go it alone, especially if it means compromising our objectives in Iraq.

    We’re committed to this course. If others are demonstrably committed to these same goals for Iraq, then maybe their aid should be considered; but face it, the UN and the EU, excepting Britain of course, and Russia do not share our objectives, and in fact have their on agendas to pursue. Further, there’s too much downside for anyone else (like India) to help without political cover from the UNSC. They don’t feel as directly threatened as us, and it’s cheaper to be a free rider.

    It’s basically our war and our war only. It’s been our war from the beginning. No one else is going to step up, and we don’t need reluctant allies. So, until something happens to make the threat more real to them, it’s wishful thinking to expect them to help. Because until then, their goals — like maintaining the status quo or in some cases actually counter balancing the US, and our goals — removing the terrorist threat, just won’t mesh.

    Some help would be nice, but if we’re trying to cut a firebreak, while the neighbors are worried all the pretty trees, then maybe we don’t want their help.

  65. A.L.

    Option #3 sounds alluring and certainly in the best of all possible worlds that’s what we would have.

    However, I’m going to run a “counter-meme” on the name of your post (“Who Will Bell the Cat”)

    First, Catch the Rabbit

    How do you make Rabbit stew?
    We can discuss the ingrediants, &tc. But the first thing is catching the rabbit, and as Elmer Fudd never learned but should have, tha (no, not “all folks”) can be harder than it seems.

    For other countries to make a more meaningful contribution to what, say, Britain has, to pick the other country that has made the most substantial contribution, they’d have to step up to the plate.

    We complain here about how we don’t have enough forces to do what we need to do, not quite the right kind of forces, &tc. Well, all these problems are *worse* in the countries that would make a good “posse” (to use Al Gore’s meme) – Western Democracies. Set aside the other problems with France & Germany, and start a list of what such an alliance would look like.

    It would include the NATO countries, plus Australia, Japan, eventually hopefully India, down the line one day Russia, and perhaps a couple others.

    Well, most of those places haven’t got a military up to par to engage in such activities on a wide scale. They simply do not make defense spending of that sort a priority. Of the ones that do, their military capabilities tend to be “localized” – not designed for extended deployments in distant places on a large scale. Holding down Kabul in Afghanistan is a stretch for the “League of Extra-Ordinary Democracies”; there’s little interest in going beyond Kabul, in spite of the fact that Karzai would like them too and we would welcome them doing so.

    They’re not prepared to invest more in expanding their defense capabilities. They would welcome improved defense capabilities falling into their lap from some sort of deus ex machina, but when it comes to their own budget priorities, additional spending to finance expanded military capabilities so they would be able to participate on a significant scale in these kind of missions are unappealing to them.

    Indeed, unappealing in other ways; after Kossovo (a comparatively small enterprise, relatively speaking) the consensus in Europe was not “ok, this is fine” but rather “we never want to do this again”.

    The basic problem in these discussions we’re having here is it revolves too much around what our needs, priorities, capabilities, attitudes, &tc. are and doesn’t take into consideration the politics of other countries and their attitudes towards these things – which go far beyond Bush-hating. Clinton couldn’t talk them into maintaining a robust military capability, either, and had difficulty dragging them into dealing with something in their own backyard – mentioning that isn’t pointing fingers at Clinton for “failing”, but highlighting the fact that it takes two to tango and they’d rather be wallflowers than dance with us in a meaningful sense.

    Oh, sure; they’d be happy to have a say, have the (deciding) vote on what policies should be pursued. So in that sense there is some interest in maintaining or creating the kind of “international collective” you mention. But beyond contributing their willingness to guide the policy and have a say in it, there is virtually no constituency in continental Europe for investing in the capability to make significant substantive contributions on the ground. Sure, they have an economy roughly our size and a larger population base, but there is no interest in spending what it would need to have a comparable capability to contribute (“burden share”) in these activities. Not even financially.

    Failure to recognize and take account of this, not only their current lackings in these areas but the lack of political interest in redressing such voids, is one of the things that are distorting debates in America, where it is often presumed that they have much to give and a latent but extant willingness to participate on a significant scale.

    So we go full circle; this post started as an effort to answer questions I raised, and now with the concept of an “international collective” we are right back to them, IMO. Because, when it comes down to it, Iraq is just a symptom of the larger matter that is raised by invoking the possibility of such a collective.

    Pursuant to that, I suppose I will recommend posts in my incomplete series on America’s 21st Century Foreign Policy.

  66. Funny David Davenport, but twisting my statements out of context only confuses you, so for your sake – I form a marked differentiation between our enemies, jihadist and islamofascist mass murderers and those that aid and abet them, – and the entire middle east, or the larger muslim world.

    I believe our enemies are relatively few, and morphing the alleged “war on terror” into a far larger much more daunting and costly democratization of the middle east meme is part of the deception and disinformation Bush employs to achieve the cloaked and singular rightwingideologue fundamentalist republican oligarchy Pax Americana war agenda. Our enemies and the middle east are, or in my opinion should be – two entirely different and separate constructs.

    We cannot, and should not pretend we, or anyone, Israel included – have the right to impose democracy, – or any government on any people or nation. Is this not exactly what we are fighting against? Is that not why we fought the cold war, and countless proxy wars against the Soviet totalitarian regime?

    This vibrant thread reveals an underlying and rather disturbing expectation, support, and actual glorification of a future of continuous neverending war.

    I believe the war language Bush exploits is bent on proselytizing exactly this liturgy, for the profits of rightwingideologues and cronies in the oil, energy, construction, and military cartels of the Bush fundamentalist republican oligarchy who singularly benefit from this agenda.

    The relentless warspeak and the notion of a neverending war on terror is defeatist.

    Defeating our enemies is not something that can be achieved in the next few weeks, but our leadership should set realistic goals for achieving our objectives, and we should work to defeat our enemies, (forget about democratizing {Bushspeak for colonizing}the middle east) as swiftly as possible. Redress in Mecca, Medina, and Riyadh will expedite this process significantly.

    Bush and his clan do not want swift victory, – they want neverending war, which is far more profitable and beneficent to their singular and narrow interests.

    My contention is, and has always been, that until Bush forcefully addresses the Saudi’s – we are not seriously fighting the war on terror.

    The point Lurker is that the UN and the world was unanimously and universally on our side after 9/11 and initially with regard to Iraq. Were there parochial conflicts of interests, and France and Russia vying for economic interests and rewards? Most certainly. That is where leadership is required, state craft, compromise, intelligence, none of which Bush exhibited.

    Most of the rest of the world – RIGHTFULLY – rejected Bush’s airy and deceptive Iraqi WMD threats propaganda, – preferred a more vigorous inspections process at the time – and did not consider the Iraqi situation as a “last resort” necessity. No one on earth supported Saddam, and many nations and cronies in this administration had longtime economic and political relations with the Butcher of Baghdad.

    Iraq was a deceptive manipulative misdirect to deflect and detour attention and focus away from the Saudi’s.

    When and if Bush decides to place America’s future and best interests above the profits of is papa’s cronies – and force the Saudi’s to quit funding and nurturing our sworn enemies – then our problems will diminish significantly and swiftly. Until that day, I hold no delusions, and wait and watch as the world is forced by Bush aggression and hegemony into relentless conflict and neverending, war. Peace is rarely ever mentioned.

    Most of you seem to support this agenda, and unfortunately for all of us, – Bush and you will have your way – neverending war is our future.

    Lastly, eight years separated the first and most recent al Queda attacks in New York, and it is delusional and dangerous to even imagine that the sequel to 9/11 is not right now in development, or some level of execution.

    Consider the failures and shameful lack of funding of Homeland security, our porous ports, the electrical grid, the proliferation of conventional weapons, the missing WMD in Irag and Russia, the rapid development of B and C W technologies, NK, Iran, and Pakistani nuke potential, the seething hatreds all over the world, the growing distrust and animosity toward America, the devolving quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, the death of the Road Map, and the fact the all our intelligence and your deceptive secretive administration openly admits the high probability of another attack on American soil in the near future – and your feeble fables of Bush doing anything meaningful to prevent another attack on America are hollow and delusional.

    Bush’s policies, or lack thereof in Iraq and Saudi Arabia especially and beyond have created less security and prosperity, and more uncertainty for Americans.

    The Saudi’s are the key, and the longer truebelievers excuse and allow Bush a pass on redressing this issue, – the great the threats to America.

  67. Lurker wrote:

    I think the consensus is to go it alone, especially if it means compromising our objectives in Iraq.

    Let me be clear that my “best of all possible worlds” preference would be that we wouldn’t have to go it alone, that we would have strong allies who could give us significant help and who shared our objectives (btw, anyone remember when that was how the word “ally” was defined? Allies were people or nations with shared objectives? Not just people making passive-agressive claims that one should surrender one’s own interests and objectives in their favor?)

    Practical reality indicates that there is limited help available. We have allies, but their capabilities are relatively small. Even Britain, one of the more powerful countries in the world, is only able to do so much. Italy, Spain, Poland, Japan, &tc. are even more limited.

    Other countries that, in the past we have shared interests with,

    a) also have fairly limited capabilities to offer even if it wasn’t for the fact that

    b) they don’t really share our interests here.

    One of the problems is that a lot of supposed “progressives”, the “forward-looking” set, really are stuck in the past; because a number of countries were our allies in a previous conflict, they still view them as allies even though the conditions that forged that alliance haven’t existed for over a decade now.

    A reading of history will show that alliances of any kind are not eternal, so while it may be disapointing that these ties are slipping away, it is more usual than unusual that in many cases, countries that were allies during the Cold War are not all allies anymore.

    In my “best of all possible worlds” continental Europe would have realized that we and they share the same interests when it comes to this conflict. Neither we nor they would then have to be “bullied” or preached to passive-agressively by the other or dragged unwillingly along, because we would be going together, as allies do.

    In this “best of all possible worlds”, indeed, they would have realized during the ’90s a need to not let their military capabilities atrophy, and both we and they would have done more to reconstitute our militaries, shifting them from forces meant to deal with Cold War threats (the forces of continental European countries are even *more* locked into a ’70s-style composition than ours). Indeed, when Saddam violated the cease fire in ’98 and thwarted UN Resolutions passed on Iraq, they would have understood that a serious response was necessary. Clinton would have had more than just Tony Blair’s support, and with sufficient backing of “our allies” the problem would have been resolved then.

    But we don’t live in that world. On this, we have to open our eyes to the world as it is, not as we would prefer it to be.

    (*actually, in my real “best of all possible worlds”, there would have been a common understanding among every member of the ’90-91 coalition on removing Saddam from power after his invasion of Kuwait. But, again, we haven’t had a best of all possible worlds – we’ve had a real world, where opinions have differed and people have erred. Life is like that. One doesn’t have to conclude that those involved – be they Clinton or Bush the Elder – were venal or stupid to come to these conclusions.*)

  68. Tony:
    I’m trying to engage your points instead of your anti-Bush rhetoric. I agree, that the Bush/Cheney/Halliburton thing looks and smells bad. It may well be bad, but there’s plenty of other objective reasons for the war having been executed. So, why not quit bringing it up, unless you can provide something other than your own thoughts on the subject. Everyone here well knows your opinion about Bush. Why keep bringing it up? Keep doing, and I’ll be forced to assume that you are indeed a troll…. contributing nothing here.

    We cannot, and should not pretend we, or anyone, Israel included – have the right to impose democracy,

    What gave us the right to do it in Japan and Germany? If you attack us, or harbor those who attack us, then you are an enemy and we are at war. Victory in war gives us the right.

    The point Lurker is that the UN and the world was unanimously and universally on our side after 9/11 and initially with regard to Iraq. Were there parochial conflicts of interests, and France and Russia vying for economic interests and rewards? Most certainly. That is where leadership is required, state craft, compromise, intelligence, none of which Bush exhibited.

    I agree somewhat with your assessment of Bush’s diplomacy, but remember; France said they would veto the use of force NO MATTER WHAT. That sounds pretty unilateral to me. It turns out, that the world’s support for us wasn’t very deep. It was already melting away when it became clear that we were going to topple the Taliban. So, as long as we didn’t defend ourselves and remained a victim, we at least had some of their sympathy. It’s a stretch to say that we ever had their support. Or if we did, it sure came with many strings attached!

  69. Tony writes: “Bush and his clan do not want swift victory, – they want neverending war, which is far more profitable and beneficent to their singular and narrow interests.”

    Baseless slander again.

  70. [ How about a “Shop for Iraq” campaign, in which kids collect pencils and notebooks (hmmm… the notebooks would have to come from the Leftorium to be of value to Arabic students), and companies get to write off donated computer equipment? ]

    How about a “Bring ROTC Back to Every College Campus” campaign?

  71. This is what Dunniga’s Strategypage.com is saying about non-US/UK troops in Iraq:

    IRAQ: Replacement Peacekeepers Don’t Make the Cut

    August 27, 2003: As troops from other nations begin to relieve American and British forces, a major problem is developing. US and British troops have the best civil affairs (working with civilians in wartime) capability in the world. The US Army has maintained a large force of civil affairs troops since World War II. The marines literally wrote the book (the Small Wars Manual) on these kinds of operations and have long been noted for their skill and enterprise in working with civilians. Many of the new troops coming in have experience with United Nations peacekeeping operations. Unfortunately, the UN operations are usually rife with corruption and mismanagement. In many cases in Iraq, efficient American troops are being replaced by contingents less willing to work, and more eager to steal. This is going to lead to more unrest among civilians, and make it easier for the criminal gangs, Saddam diehards and Islamic radicals to operate.

    American commanders are not unaware of these problems, but they have limited resources to deal with it. There are an increasing number of Iraqi police and para-military security forces being put to work, and these are supervised by Americans (usually civilians.) There are still US Army civil affairs troops to work with the foreign contingents, but the new peacekeeping troops cannot be watched full time. Moreover, the new peacekeepers will not patrol, or operate against Iraqi resistance, as effectively as American troops.

    But the corruption will be the biggest problem. Iraq is already a very corrupt place to begin with. A “civil society” has yet to become widespread in Iraq. Most Iraqis look to their tribe or clan for justice. Everyone else is seen as either a temporary ally, or potential victim. Saddam Hussein turned the Baath Party into a new “tribe”, which was capable of exploiting all the existing tribes and special interest groups (like the powerful Shia clergy). Saddam exploited the traditional tribalism to keep himself in power. Now, with the Baath Party no longer in charge, Iraqi politics has reverted to the ancient tribal and clan competition. For the past century, there have been a growing number of educated Iraqis active in trying to establish a Western style “civil society.” But this would mean tribes would be superceded by fair courts and police who were not corrupt. The tribal leaders don’t want to give up the power, and it’s no easy task to create courts and police who cannot be easily bought or intimidated. Add to this volatile mix peacekeepers who can be compromised, and the situation will only get much worse.

    So don’t be surprised when the stories about corrupt peacekeepers in Iraq begin to appear. It’s an old story, moved to a new location by the same cast of characters.

  72. Neither Iraq, nor any other nation in the middle east attacked us. I have a difficult time with any kind of comparison between WWII, Japan and Germany, and either Iraq, or the supposed war on terror which involves much different times, tactics, causes, reasons, threats, objectives, and enemies.

    The repetition is necessary to bang through the hardened walls of insulation preventing recognition of legitimate questions that many of us have been asking since Bush usurped the white house.


  73. Tony writes: “Neither Iraq, nor any other nation in the middle east attacked us.”

    A debatable claim. The Czechs still believe that Mohammad Atta met with Iraqi officials in the Czech Republic. And Afghanistan, while not in the Middle East, appears to have named Osama Bin Laden as Defense Minister of the Taliban government.

  74. A.L.,

    Back to the narrow question of the Russians:
    I want to going to restate something I said above.

    What will the cost to our other foreign policy initiatives of making that commitment?

    Porphy asks:
    2) What terms they [the Russians, in this case]will demand.

    You answer:
    2) Honoring prewar debts and oil contracts, stability in future world oil prices

    I made the point originally that honoring prewar oil contracts violated the UNSC resolution recognizing us as the occupying force. Porphyrogenitus correctly points out that what is done by the UNSC can be undone, and that to create a resolution which a) authorized U.N. peackeeping forces in Iraq and b) recognized preward oil contracts would be “legitimate”. And so it would. My point is that it would not be right, and it would raise very serious issues of colonialism and imperialism, which would otherwise be ridiculous. The oil is simply not ours to bargan with.

    There are practical as well as principled reasons to cede oil decisions to the Iraqis. If the Iraqi’s decide it is worth it to them to cut someone a deal later on, then fine – but if we saddle them with bogus contracts and prewar debt, blowback would be likely and intense. The blame for the worst of the economic legacy of Saddam would transfer to us. The impact to our larger objectives would be tremendous.

    My conjecture is that anything which would sufficiently motivate any other country to help us is something that is neither wise nor just for us to conceed. I’d like to hear just one thing we are currently holding onto, which we could relinquish without compromising our goals.

    /sorry for the rant but I think this point deserves acknowledgment

  75. Addressing A.L.’s idea about using Russian or other non-U.S. troops in Iraq requires that you address the missions they would be doing. They boil down to four:

    1) Combat
    2) Foreign Internal Security
    3) Nation building
    4) Static Security

    Tom Holsinger’s points about the double language barrier and the differing occupation doctrines of non-US/UK troops are the heart of the matter.

    A.L. is correct about it taking a year for short-term American conscripts or enlistees to be formed into effective new paramilitary units. The question is whether foreign troops would be worth the effort at all given that the handicaps of the double language barrier and the need to retrain them with the American occupation doctrine.

    American troops are better than all comers in the first role, combat. The British can match the American military in an urban setting due to training from Northern Ireland, but in any mixed or open country setting they lack the organic transport and signals support to match American units. The Australians are a hand me down version of the British in this regard and only elite units from NATO countries come close. Everyone else isn’t competitive.

    In the second role it is roughly the same break out because of the lack of Arabic interpreters. The US Military had the opportunity to make use of the Iraqi National Congress, but Tommy Franks chose not to use them. (You also have a problem in that the State Department is playing “White Strike” games in not ordering its Arabic interpreters to Iraq to support American Military operations. It has “asked for volunteers” and very few have. We are at war and the State Department is pretending otherwise.)

    There is no nation in the world that can match the US military in the role of nation building. Only the US keeps civil affairs, Psyops and large numbers of civil engineering battalions in its military force structure. We need more, but no one else has even the inadequate number the American military possesses.

    The last role, static security, is where American troops are a waste and foreign troops can contribute most. The question is how much do foreign troops contribute over Iraqis in US raised paramilitary formations that US officers control?

    Remember, Tim said this up thread:

    >Our most natural allies in this fight are the
    >Iraqis themselves. The current plan to send
    >30,000 Iraqis to Hungary for police training
    >(and I suspect >someintensive “debriefing/reeducation” as well)
    >will be tantamount to an additional two-
    >heavy/three- light divisions – with an Iraqi

    Porphyrogenitus had a real point when he made the distinctions between Russian Regime Security forces (paratroopers) used for peacekeeping in Bosnia and the line Russian Troops used in Chechnya. The former will cooperate with the Ba’athists and act as a cover/sanctuary for their operations. The latter will act like a corrupt third world Army with Soviet firepower and the will to use it indiscriminately.

    So why use foreign troops at all?

    The only reasons I can see is that is reassures the very small number of wobbly American internationalists here in the States and gives the anti-Americans another reason to hate the Bush Administration when foreigners abuse Iraqis.

  76. All or anyone – I don’t know what ‘thread protocol’ is here, but could someone tell me what the term ‘meme’ refers to, (danglin’ participle and all)?

  77. lewy14 says:

    My conjecture is that anything which would sufficiently motivate any other country to help us is something that is neither wise nor just for us to conceed.

    This is a gem of a statement- it’s lucid, comprehensive, and morally astute. It’s a great foundation for discussing the entire issue of wider international involvement in Iraq.

  78. Matt, you are very kind. My statement remains a conjecture: I can’t find a counterexample but I find a proof, either. I’m open to discussing either.

    I just need to learn to spell concede

  79. To bring in one of the original ‘axis of weasels’, would be a huge unjustice to the whole effort and those that have given their lives in this humanitarian effort. Might as well lay out the red carpet for France, too.

    Definitely a ‘nay’ vote here.

  80. 88 posts down. im sure there are a few more to come.

    porphy, you and the others who are mostly in agreement with you have cleared up a lot for me about the best ways to deal with the current troop problem in iraq. ill make sure to read your blog first the next time im looking for well thought perspectives on questions like these.

  81. Well, I was thinking about throwing in the towel on this, but I figure we can milk the thread for 10 or 11 more posts…

    …so let me lay out what I see as the crux issue(s).

    First, and foremost, we’ve developed an insanely effective military which really can demolish any orgnized fighting force in very little time.

    But the slow work of nation-building, like string quartets, takes a certain fixed amount of effort in the form of person-years.

    So whether we have enough troops in Iraq right now – as some feel – or not – as others feel, we’re stretched thin as a Beverly Hills debutante.

    And we have a lot of other problems to solve.

    So we can:

    Solve them as best we can with the resources we’ve got (which will take high re-enlistment #’s, and note that the Administration hasn’t been generous to the troops), and accept that it will take as long as it takes.

    Dig deeper into our national manpower and wealth and build an armed force big enough to do the job in front of us.

    Get help.

    Note that getting help a la Kofi Annan is Right Out. And, based on what I’m reading in this thread, going with the Russians isn’t such a hot idea (I’m not 100% convinced, but damn close). So who?

    Interesting stuff…


  82. Nice summation Armed Liberal. America is committed to Iraq now for better or worse, and indeed we will accomplish our objectives eventually, – but the road home as this thread proves will be complex, costly, and long, – and if one good thing emerges out of this experience, beyond liberating the Iraqi people, – it will be a demand for much better planning for the day after major combat operations end.

  83. Balagan: Thanks for the vote of confidence. If I haven’t or don’t make a post on a topic on my blog, feel free to prod me to.

    A.L. – Further pursuant to the question of “getting help”, I should have remembered this, earlier, but it’s an example of what I’m talking about in making something of a distinction between raw force size and what can be “projected”, deployed any distance from the “home country”:

    Western Europe was a bit proud about half a year ago when the force in Macedonia became “all European”. However, it is “all European” with a catch – they still rely on some U.S. logistic & support personel.

    Most of the militaries of our European allies – and this extends to other allies, like Japan – are designed to fight battles fairly close to home, in their own “front yard”. Even extending to their “own backyard” (like ex-Yugoslavia) is a logistical reach for them, and they depend on our personnel to provide the needed support.

    Indeed, this “hug close to base” attribute is one of the things, beyond just numbers, that keeps them from wanting to extend the “international security force” beyond Kabul in Afghanistan. Britain is one of the few countries that really can operate in significant numbers for an extended period in distant theaters. Yes, France (for example), has their “reaction force”, and in some ways it’s nothing to sneeze at. But if you’re talking a “sizable contribution”, given their *own* various deployments, what they could provide would be relatively small – even setting asside the other barriers to French involvement. The practical obsticals make working on the political ones almost irrelivant – and once one reaches that conclusion, then the seeming indifference on the part of the Bush Administration to whether France & Germany *want* to help becomes more understandable; it would make a superficial/cosmetic difference if they were on board, in that, for a time, it would clamp down *one* type of criticism leveled at them.

    But everyone would understand that the responsibility was still ours and all the other criticisms would be leveled at us, not at “the alliance” as a whole – as is the case in Afghanistan – because, substantively, the vast majority would still be on us.

    I think that such allied formations as are being sent to Iraq – the Norwegians (I have a gaming buddy in Norway and he served in Bosnia and reminded me the other day not to leave out their contributions in Iraq, but alas I keep forgetting), Poles, Australians (to some extent), Azeris and others are largely dependent upon our logistical support. As was mentioned in the Rumsfeld-Abizaid press conference, their comes a point when “more troops” creates more problems than it solves – because each additional “grunt” out on patrol in the pointy-end of the spear requires a beefing up of logistical support. It appears from what they said that they’re interested in additional allied forces mainly to allivate rotation-burdens on our guys, but not *so* much for a large net increase in the force levels, which would mean that additional logistical/non-combat support forces would have to be deployed, and *we* would have do deploy those *no* *matter* *who* *was* *with* *us*, because no one else really has that to the degree we do, in significant size.

    Indeed, lots of folks who don’t understand exactly why things are done as they are often handwring over the fact that the combat-to-noncombat military ratios in our armed forces seem to be growing; there are fewer and fewer combat troops relative to non-combat support troops. This *does* have an effect (it means, for example, that there aren’t enough 11-Bravos to cover Iraq), but this very thing is also the reason why we’re able to project power as we are – and why no one else can.

    IMO, what we really need to do at this point isn’t so much try to get more people into Iraq. In that, we’re just going to have to do the best we can with the situation as it is – for if, as I and others have lamented, we missed the last two years as an opportunity to increase our forces and constitute units that could help us out, other countries *doubly* missed it as well; we have at least increased our military budget by more over the last two years than the total military budgets of France & Germany combined (just our increase in spending since ’01 is greater than their combined total spending).

    Instead, what we need to do – and what Rumsfeld & Bush re-started last winter (an extention of similar discussions initiated by previous American Administrations), but in a “graver” tone, is have a “sit down” with all our allies – and include ourselves – and have a real, almost confrontational, discussion: who is willing to fish and who’s just gonna cut bait? By that I mean who is going to not just *say* they’re interested in and willing to develop capabilities to help out (as they always pledge to do and then follow through with token efforts), but *REALLY* do it. Even if that means a sacrifice, as we sacrifice other things so we can keep our forces to where they are now, and the consensus here is that we should do even more; curb tax cuts if necessary and social spending if necessary to make this a priority.

    Which of them will do the same?
    Given their own budget problems in France, Germany, Italy, and other countries, I think the answer will be a scratching of the head, shrugged shoulders, and “well, I donno. But you could transfer military technology to us. That would help. [Yah, help them sell stuff in foreign markets].

    Yes, the militaries of all these countries are filled with blueprints for reforming their forces along lines similar to ours, transforming from 19th/20th century style conscript armies with 70s era technology and a logistical “tail” intended to fight a shortish, fierce war in the North German plain. But the $$$$$ isn’t there for them to advance very far with such blueprints and looking at current European politics and spending priorities – which, again setting asside any differences with America over Iraq or whatever – are focused on other things; maintaining expansive social programs that are unsustainable amid efforts to reform to get their economies going again while also keeping within the proscribed deficit and debt limits imposed on them by the agreements that lead to the creation of the Euro and European Central Bank (so far, that much is a struggle and both France and Germany are failing with just those things). Cash to help us in Iraq isn’t there, not for beefing up their armies and not really for helping with non-military reconstruction efforts. They couldn’t help us if they wanted. Thus, again, the half-heartedness of the Bush Administration in trying to persuade them to want to offer help. There just isn’t much they could give.

    But we could initiate the discussion and see who was on board for *serious* efforts to develop the kind of “International G-Force” (I prefer that to “collective”. Sorry) you broached. My guess it would come down to the small set of countries that have already proved their willingness to put their resources where their mouth is – that is, a few of the “Anglosphery” countries. And, given that, they can only do so much and we shouldn’t be shocked that we provide four fifths of what’s there.

    Probably anything large will would have to wait at least a decade, when – if everything works out just right (it doesn’t), Europe will have sorted out its internal domestic messes and be better able to seriously consider making significant contributions. Hopefully by then Japan will be at the same stage – ready to expand their ability to participate in such things – and maybe India will have progressed enough that they would be at a stage where they, too, could sign on. But that’s a lot of “ifs” and I for one am not that optimistic even with respect to this medium-term scenario (10 years down the line).

  84. A.L.

    I’m trying to understand the intensity with which you’re looking for options, for ways to involve other countries.

    So here’s a fast ball, but straight and over the plate.

    What makes you more uneasy: the thought that we can’t do it by ourselves, or that we can?

  85. lewy-

    Damn good question. My thinking (as of 2200h PST) is that I’m not sure we can, without moving to the ‘kill them all’ mode.

    I’m also thinking a lot about what it means to ‘go it alone’ and that I’m not sure I like the places I go, because that moves us to empire mode, and we all know what happens to empires.

    But I’m chewing on this last, and it isn’t really done yet.


  86. Hmmm. I assume that Judaism is the State Religion of Israel, and caution all that we are headed for a very slippery slope on this nation buiding mission if Islam is recognized as the State Religion in Iraq. I know the Kurds don’t need to be reminded, and the ‘Baath Party’ has left the arena, but I certainly don’t see how we can invite any other country into Iraq that has a ready-to-wear suit of armor. That includes Russia, that has NO suit. Their (Iraq) previous State, although secularly run, was Islamic in construct. I say we find SH in all haste, put this continous terrorism in the ground where it belongs, and let the Iraqi people (including the WOMEN) decide what kind of government they want for themselves. They may be uneducated, but I can’t believe they are stupid. If that means keeping the unconstructive ‘ideas’ out of Iraq (including the very destructive and greedy ones) that will inevitably come riding to ‘our’ rescue by our remaining the Coalition of Willing, I say that is the price we must pay.

  87. A.L.,

    Oh, please, not the fear of imperialism again. Iraq is not a colony, nor will it ever be. They’ll be back on their feet, and guiding their own country in a couple of years. Beyond that, isn’t one of the central points here that the U.S. force structure is stretched pretty tight to cover all of its current commitments? We flat can not go on more excursions than we already have slated without letting important priorities slide.

    Whether we “go it alone” in Iraq or not (well, ignoring the British, Aussies, Poles, Norweigians, etc.), the fact remains that our actions are axiomatically limited by our capabilities. “Imperial overreach” is not in the cards.


    I’ve really enjoyed your comments, and learned much from them. Keep up the good work, sir.

  88. AL-
    I’m also thinking a lot about what it means to ‘go it alone’ and that I’m not sure I like the places I go, because that moves us to empire mode, and we all know what happens to empires.

    You’re right to point out the historical precedent that empires are unsustainable.

    But at the risk of flogging the old “should the US be an empire & is it one already?” debate, we should acknowledge that our impending empire (let’s just call it that for sake of this argument) ought to defy precedent. Any quasi-empire the US might pursue in the coming years would be premised on its own eventual dissolution.

    I don’t just say this as a way of putting us on the side of the angels- I mean we honestly have neither the stomach nor the attention span for a gloabl imperium that lasts more than a few election cycles.

    The evolving US strategy involves choosing the worst, most unstable parts of the world, and projecting whatever power’s necessary to reduce the endemic threats. In sub-Saharan Africa, that means fighting AIDS. In the Middle East, it means putting a stake throught the heart of pan-Arab and Islamist fascism. Once we put in place a minimal economic and political infrastructure, we go back home, hopefully safer for our troubles.

    In the short and medium term, we will need the skills and the will to be intimately involved in some unpleasant places. How to foster this sort of benevolent extroversion in the US is an open question (and I think free trade is an underestimated component), but I don’t think there are many other countries better equipped to do it or to help us with it.

  89. An article by Michael McFaul of the CEIP from last Sunday’s WaPo.

    I don’t agree with a few of his contentions, but this part is worth considering:

    To help articulate and execute a refined course, President Bush should create a Department of Democratic Regime Change headed by a Cabinet-level official — the offensive equivalent of the defense-oriented Department of Homeland Security. The State Department’s mission is diplomacy between states, not the creation of new states. The Pentagon’s mission should remain regime destruction; its formidable capacities for regime construction should be moved into a new agency, which would also appropriate resources from the Agency for International Development (particularly the Office of Transitional Initiatives), the State Department, Treasury, Commerce, Justice and Energy. This new department must include an office for grand strategy on democratic regime change and be endowed with prestige, talented people, and above all else resources. Our capacity to help build new states must be as great as our capacity to destroy them.

    Department? Cabinet-level official? I dunno. Hopefully “regime construction” is not going to be our permanent national calling. But giving it its own name and separating it from the work of conventional soldiers is a good start.

  90. Sam – Thanks.

    A.L. – I don’t think it’s axiomatic that it “moves us to Empire mode”. I’d like to here an explaination of why you think that. I believe that as you formulate it explicitly it’ll become obvious that it’s *non*-obvious that we automatically move into empire mode.

    Btw, I’m not saying it’s axiomatic that we *don’t*, that it’s not possible that we would. But on the other hand – Rome started its clime to Empire when it was the head of a League. Even into the “Late Republic” and “Early Empire” Rome prefered to see itself as the senior (eventually *very* senior) partner in a series of alliances (“client-state” has a unsavory connotation to us, in part because of that and how things ended up working out in reality. But in Roman society, personal bonds, Clientela and Patron were the norm and there was nothing dishonorable about a person being either a Patron or a Client) So it’s not axiomatic that working with others we will somehow avoid Empire while working “alone” will produce it.

    Anyhow, I’m now planning on centering Part VI of my “America’s 21st Century Foreign Policy” around some of the themes herin. Won’t be written up & posted till probably tonight or tommorrow, though.

  91. Cap’n spin, the short answer is no. There’s a difference between “a Jewish state” and having an official religion. Israel is the Jewish state. It exists as a final refuge for Jews (hence the Law of Return for all except Meyer Lsansky), and the state will fund a number Jewish activities as cultural projects. But it does not have a declared official religion the way, say, Britian does (let alone Saudi Arabia).

    A full explanation would require a longer post.

  92. Matt wrote:

    You’re right to point out the historical precedent that empires are unsustainable.

    To make an observation, on my part, that has nothing to do with the morality or immorality of Empires per se, it is accurate to say that nothing human lasts forever and, indeed, non-empires are at least as subject to eventually getting overun and falling from grace as Empires are.

    It’s not a falacy to say that “Empires are unsustainable” but it is misleading, because everything human ebbs and flows over time. One thing is historically clear, though: in general it has been better, not worse, to be the Empire than to be the non-Empire (again, setting asside the morality of the issue; though the Franz Fanonish theory that the weak are all virtue and the strong all vice is incorrect; small, weak nations can do petty, venal, meanspirited, spiteful things, too).

    That said, Matt is right that whatever we do should not follow previous patterns. As I wrote here:

    America as Britain’s Successor: Note that the difference between this formulation and the above isn’t simply the substitution of Britain as a model instead of Rome, but it is “America as Britain’s Successor”, not as “the New Britain”.

    We have succeeded to Britain’s position in the world, as it was evolving (and as it has since evolved under our influence) – there is much to learn from Britain in this continuity, but this is not the Raj reborn anymore that is the Empire of the Newest of New Romes. The policy isn’t to recreate the British Empire but to continue to carry the torch forward from where they passed it (however reluctantly) to us.

    See the whole post for the full argument.

  93. Everyone keeps talking about how the European countries have a fiscal crisis supporting their welfare state and pensions, and thus will not have the ability, setting aside the question of the desire, to help us in Iraq. Left unmentioned is our own fiscal crisis with record budget deficits, private pension shortfalls, the end, yes end, of Social Security, and a moribund economy. All these things WILL put a very real damper on any of our own plans to pursue the war on terrorism. Another article perhaps?

    With respect to Iraq not attacking us… well they’d been in perpetual breach of the Gulf War I cease-fire ever since fighting originally stopped. That seems like enough justification to me…

  94. it goes back to the question of what exactly it is to be jewish… it cannot be stressed enough how difficult a question this is to answer. for those who share at least some of a common reference point i would call judaism and jewishness a massive scale yet fully personal chavura. the problem is that most, if not all, who are unfamiliar with the substance of jewishness have no clue what that means.

    instead of getting into it here, i will just cite rabbi hillel:

    “…all the rest is commentary. now go study.”

  95. we have a fiscal crisis? what fiscal crisis?

    honestly, there is a fundamental difference between the economic problems of europe and the short lived american recession. our problems are *mostly* superficial, summed up in an uncertainty over just what we do next after the bull run of the 90’s and a bit of an understandable shock from so many events in such a short time. our structural problems are actually possible to deal with because our population is empowered and eager to do something about it.

    in europe the structural problems run much deeper and the population is about as far from wanting to do anything about it as the governments there are. its always about someone else fixing everything so they wont have to.

    we have been taking a break while deciding what to do next. they have shown to be totally exhausted with life and the hard work of economic or cultural growth. until europe wakes up to its own failure and becomes determined to do something healthy about it, they will continue to be all the bad things so many wrongly accuse our growing america of being.

  96. Lurker wrote:

    Left unmentioned is our own fiscal crisis with record budget deficits, private pension shortfalls, the end, yes end, of Social Security, and a moribund economy.

    It’s not that I don’t take that into account, but

    1) Their situation is worse.

    2) Our situation is not combined with a Suicide Pact (the Euro/ERM limitations on deficit & debt levels).

    3) In general, these things are all more a matter of degree, not kind; degree is important, though.

    Pump their problems combined with the straigtjacket the Euro/ECB puts on them, combine it with their demographic crisis, their lagging growth rates1, and the current political climate their with regard to priorities and one gets a situation that is worse than ours, even where parallels can be drawn.

    1Folks may say we’ve had a rough couple years, economically. Well, for the Eurozone, things have been worse – especially in the large countries. Indeed, the Eurozone has consistently lagged ~1% behind us in economic growth during the same period that, for example, The Economist has each year predicted they would grow faster than us by ~1%.

    Over time, this is a *big* difference and if they are to fix it they will have to put emphasis on very wrenching domestic changes that are only now beginning (that’s what I’m alluding to when I mention their “political climate”, domestic priorities, &tc).

    Again, as with the fact that we can point to shortfalls in our own military that doesn’t mean that the shortfalls in continental European militaries are comparable even though the categories may seem similar (not enough troops, not enough priority focused on fixing the problem, &tc) – the difference in degree is sharp enough to be a *major* distinction.

    Same thing economically and with respect to funded and unfunded future liabilities and the prospects of covering them.

    But, you’re right; a fuller discussion of our own domestic problems would be a different topic, another post for another time.

  97. Agree. Let’s keep “the death of Europe” out of it.

    The relevant issues are: do they have the troops and supply capability NOW to make a difference, and what would the cost be, and is that acceptable?

  98. The Najaf savagery today is another indication that the answer to your last question Joe, is unfortunately no.

    I really do not understand all the Europe hating. It appears to be rooted more on blind partisan defense of an indefensible and failing Bush foreign policy than on any legitimate economic, political, military, or social basis. America needs to promote internationalism, not isolationism – globalism, not nationalism, and all this phantasmagoria of *Empire* is essentially un-American activity. We are supposed to be the defenders of freedom and justice for all, – not colonialists and religious reformationists. Framing anyone and everyone who opposes or rejects Bush, as anti-American is silly and false. We all know each nation has their faults and sins to carry, but divorcing ourselves politically and economically from “old Europe” or any nation that disagrees with Bush’s deception and hegemony is not very sound policy for the future of America.

    Regarding the Czech intel, and Iraq attacks on the US, the first is single sourced, and “not credible” according to our own intelligence, and Iraq taking pot shots at US planes enforcing the No Fly Zones, (and well beyond in the months prior to the war) hardly compares to Pearl Harbor, or 9/11.

  99. btw, no one said a thing about “hating Europe”, though I suppose the outlining of inconvenient facts and practical matters is dismissed by some as such, because they have a hard time grappling with reality when it contradicts their fantasy-ideology.

    Since the rest of the post following the “I don’t understand the Europe hating” was just a blind, fact-free partisan tirade full of the usual garbage, there is no need to adress it. But I felt the need to briefly violate my self-imposed ban on replying to certain posters in order to point out the absurdity of claiming that discussing practical realities was somehow an expression of hatred towards Europe.

  100. I picked up the following from the Early Bird today:

    Philadelphia Inquirer
    August 29, 2003
    More Than Soldiers Needed In Iraq
    By Trudy Rubin

    “Yet the heart of today’s Iraq problem is political, not military. Let me explain.

    Sure, it would help to have more U.S. troops, if they were the right kind. More special forces and elite commando units, civil affairs and language specialists, more engineers – all are vitally needed. But there’s a limited supply of such resources, with key units already being diverted from Afghanistan.

    As for foreign troops, sheer numbers can’t substitute for quality, either. Apart from the United States and Britain, the 29 other countries in the international coalition provide only 12,000 soldiers. Most have sent only a few hundred men and rely on the Americans for logistics and communications. They give a United Colors of Benetton look to coalition forces – but not much else.

    Bulgarians, for example, are relieving U.S. Marines in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, to which they have dispatched a 455-man battalion with virtually no English speakers and only one Bulgarian-Arabic translator. The Bulgarians say they can’t take on the many local civic-affairs tasks the Marines have been performing, like training a police force.

    So throwing a multinational babel into Iraq holds no guarantee of calming the country or unearthing terrorist cells.

    As for countries with tougher militaries like Turkey, Pakistan, or India – which have said they might send large contingents if the White House gets a stronger U.N. mandate – they could cause more problems than they solve.

    Iraq’s Kurds are resistant to the idea of troops from Turkey, which has repressed Kurds at home. Iraqi Shiites are dubious about troops from Pakistan, which has failed to crush militant Sunni Islamists back home who murder Pakistani Shiites. As for India – it has brewing troubles back home with (and between) Hindu and Muslim militants that could make it dicey to export its troops to a Muslim country.

    You get the point. A broader multinational mix of peacekeepers could relieve some American units, and might be very useful once Iraq is stable. But foreign forces won’t help much in achieving that calm.

    To turn Iraq around, the Bush team must give Iraqis a more visible stake soon in the political – and military – process.

    U.S. forces are training a new Iraqi police force and army, but those new bodies won’t be ready for 18 months to two years. Iraqis can’t wait that long.”

  101. i agree here with trent (which doesnt happen very often). these other options we are all looking for are looking more and more like they simply dont exist for the here and now. im starting to think that maybe our focus is misdirected altogether. the intense desire to improve the immediate combat, security, political, and morale situations in iraq are right on target for what deserves the most of our attention, but maybe the answer to these concerns is not to be found in iraq.

    lets break these down one by one.

    our combat effectiveness is pretty much unchallenged. as much as it would be nice to have a bit more relief for the troops we have, the change of seasons as we come out of summer and the continued attrition of anti-american forces will hopefully do a bit to bring some relief during the months to come. otherwise its all in the mid- to long- term.

    the security situation is something we seem to mostly agree will take a mix of time and some high profile success. all the answers ive seen are talking about what can be done for the future but not now. besides, is it really as bad as it seems?

    i think the real meat of our problem is in the political and morale areas. what im thinking is that the battle for a more secure iraq isnt something that needs more support in iraq. it needs more support here and more challenge against those who would undermine it around the world.

    vdh has an column that was published today that outdoes even his usually outstanding writing. there are some other links in this comments thread that also do an airtight job of shooting down many of our worries.

    perception can have physical impact – as anyone who has lived through the transformation of nyc during the past decade can attest to. maybe the uncertainty over the security and stability of iraq has a lot more to do with a lack of confidence on our own part, and a lack of arguing strongly for just how well things are going with the naysayers among the american and european publics.

    i know we all talk about how the admin should be selling this more, but i dont think this is a job for the administration. the pulse of the nation is not to be found in the white house. it is us as informed supporters of success for democratization and freedom in the region who should dive armed to the teeth into the debate over just what is happening. i also know many of us have been doing so to some degree… but it has been hard to really take this to the degree that is called for when so many of us have been so unsure of what is going on, what will happen next, and what we think should be done.

    we have continued to have our near-constant gutcheck, and i think the answers to a lot of these difficult questions have really become clear at this point.

    i for one am glad that armed liberal took up this open exploration of lingering questions and that it has lead to so much more clarity about the key sticking points. for myself though, thanks to the help of many posts here which have sorted out some of the loose ends, im eager and already starting to embrace the uncertainty and pick fights with those who i personally know who have themselves been believing the worst every step along the way.

  102. What if we pull our 70,000 troops out of Germany and 20,000 (about half) of our troops out of Japan. That’s 90,000 more US troops we could use right there!

  103. Great thread (a bit redundant at times).

    I like the Russians, but in a small contingent, at first. And the Poles, and all Central Europeans (Czechs, Hungarians, my Slovaks, & Slovenians).

    LANGUAGE is key:
    All troops need basic English, at least.
    The more basic Arabic, the better.

    All current ROTC corp should be taking Arabic. Different computer intensive langauge courses, in Arabic, should be tested; and the better ones should be standardized on.

    Arabic Language pay should be introduced, along with some required basic language, and free advanced language. Anybody can learn — talented folks really quick, poorly talented with enough work (often too much to be worth it).

    All NATO forces should be conversant in English. And daily English drills should be part of the training.

    The second point — hire more Iraqis. More of the ex-soldiers. Hire many as teachers of Arabic to new soldiers coming. Pay them to learn English, too.

    The Iraqis should be in double or triple person patrols, with comm to “elite” Iraq forces for backup, who have US forces to back them up. I’ve been assuming this is the goal, but haven’t actually seen this stated. My own opinion here is to OVER hire. Where 1 duo should be enough, have two trios — watching & helping each other, but also making corruption more expensive, less likely.

    Iraq ID cards should be a priority, with newly entered computer data base data on the people, where they live, who can vouch for them, etc.
    Document the strangers. And the car owners, and the car drivers.

    And have more Iraqis doing more roadblock, random checks of more cars, etc. With US backup.
    And other force backup.

    For civilian security support, quantity of good meaning troops makes up for almost any low level of quality, as long as there is back up that can be called. Remember that the US is filled with more private security people than police — and the main job of most security is to call the police if there is a problem.

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